Monday, September 13, 2010

Econo Mart Surveillance Video Captures The Beginning Of The Natural Gas Explosion In San Bruno, California

A couple of interesting videos on the San Bruno fire I thought I'd pass along. The first video is from a surveillance camera at the Econo Mart gas station located at the southwest corner of Glenview Dr. and San Bruno Ave., just west of the Skycrest Shopping Center. It captured the beginning of the explosion.

The second video shows customers reacting inside Lunadi's Market located in the Skycrest Shopping Center. My previous post on this disaster is available HERE.

Click satellite map HERE for reference.

Here's the Econo Mart video, incorporated into an AP report. You'll see the explosion at the left of your screen; it actually is not as close to the gas station as it appears. The Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood is just to the north of the gas station. The man with the station wagon was going to gas up his vehicle; he suddenly changed his mind.

Here's the Lunardi's Market video. Notice how people starting scrambling. One person must have had some combat military experience; he hit the deck the moment he saw the flash.

For an update on the situation, the San Francisco Appeal has a battery of stories conveniently grouped HERE. Despite some uncertainty, the official score remains four fatalities and four missing. Eight people remain hospitalized. A total of 37 homes were completely destroyed; two other homes received major damage and six others have minor damage. The city's list is available HERE.

Many residents continue to insist they smelled gas in the area in the days leading up to the explosion, and some say that PG&E crews were in the area. However, PG&E continues to insist that there are no records of any gas leak reports from residents, and that there is also no record of any crews recently in the area. PG&E previously announced the creation of a $100 million dollar fund to help residents recover. Victims of the fire will soon be receiving between $15,000 and $50,000 from PG&E, depending on the extent of the damage. The company emphasized there are no strings attached. PG&E is also now saying that the pipe that ruptured was inspected twice in the past year — once for corrosion and once for leaks — and the checks turned up no problems.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has taken over the investigation, and they are examining whether or not a major sewer upgrade in the neighborhood two years ago weakened the gas line. The crews tore up the intersection of Glenview and Earl, adjacent to ground zero, and there's concern that the vibrations triggered by the equipment may have made the gas line unstable.

And finally, a Yahoo News story suggests that the San Bruno explosion may be the tip of the iceberg because numerous gas lines nationwide are aging. More than 60 percent of the nation's gas transmission lines are 40 years old or older. Most of them are made of steel, with older varieties prone to corrosion. The more problematic pipes are made of cast-iron. Additionally, the U.S. has more than 2 million miles of pipelines, and there are only about 100 federal inspectors nationwide to ensure compliance. So we're relying disproportionately upon the integrity of the private operators.

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