Fire Engulfs San Francisco Suburb
LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:
Richard, can you give us an idea of where San Bruno is in relation to San Francisco and what the firefighters are trying to do?
RICHARD GONZALES: What firefighters also had to deal with was high winds. High winds of about 20 or more than 20 miles per hour sent embers all across the neighborhood known as Glenview, and started fires all over this section of San Bruno.
WERTHEIMER: Have you been able to talk to any of the people who live there, witnesses?
GONZALES: Yes, we have. We have been sitting in a staging area for people who have been evacuated from their neighborhood, where they might receive referrals for service. And I spoke with one woman. Her name was Cass Capsiac(ph). She's a caterer. And she explained what happened when she first realized something was wrong.
WERTHEIMER: I was cooking dinner when the whole house shook and there was this big rumble and then we heard this giant explosion. And everybody ran out of the houses. And we thought it was closer than it was. It was about a mile and a half from us, but they've evacuated the whole neighborhood because of the wind and the fires in the canyon and it's very volatile.
WERTHEIMER: Richard, a gas pipeline explosion of this size, does anybody have any idea why it blew up?
GONZALES: At a news conference last night, the fire chief Dennis Haig(ph), says it's still too early to tell. He doesn't know how or why this pipeline was compromised and how it managed to set off such a massive blaze.
WERTHEIMER: Can you tell us something about the kind of damage you're looking at?
GONZALES: Well, I'm far from the damage. People have been kept away from what this is, essentially ground zero of this fire. But we do know that the fire itself is about 50 percent contained, but there are still scattered fires all over what's known as the Glenview neighborhood. And the firefighters are beginning and continue a search for victims who may not have made it out.
WERTHEIMER: Do authorities have a sense of who's been accounted for and who has not? Do they think there were people caught in that explosion that did not get out?
GONZALES: That's their main concern, accounting for every person. City manager Connie Jackson asked for everyone who is in that neighborhood, who could get out, to report to authorities. And here's how she said it.
WERTHEIMER: We're asking residents to report in so that we can make sure that all of the residents in the affected area are fully accounted for. This is our most immediate priority.
GONZALES: Of course, you know, they're very concerned that there were a lot of people who were unable to get out. And they fear what they will find this morning.
WERTHEIMER: Thanks very much, Richard.
GONZALES: Thank you.
WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.