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Homes on fire after explosion near San Francisco

 A ball of flames and smoke are seen in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Several homes were destroyed as a massive fire roared through a mo...
 A cameraman takes footage as a ball of flames and smoke are seen in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Several homes were destroyed as a mas...
 A massive fire is roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Homes are being destroyed as the mas...
 Neighbors watch as a ball of flames and smoke are seen in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Homes are being destroyed as a massive fire roa...
 A massive fire is roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from San Bruno and surr...
 A massive fire is roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from San Bruno and surr...
 A massive fire is roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from San Bruno and surr...

Large Explosion

A ball of flames and smoke are seen in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Several homes were destroyed as a massive fire roared through a mo...

Large Explosion

A cameraman takes footage as a ball of flames and smoke are seen in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Several homes were destroyed as a mas...

Large Explosion

A massive fire is roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Homes are being destroyed as the mas...

Large Explosion

Neighbors watch as a ball of flames and smoke are seen in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Homes are being destroyed as a massive fire roa...

Large Explosion

A massive fire is roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from San Bruno and surr...

APTOPIX Large Explosion

A massive fire is roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from San Bruno and surr...

APTOPIX Large Explosion

A massive fire is roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from San Bruno and surr...

A massive fire burned homes as it roared through a mostly residential neighborhood in the hills south of San Francisco following a loud explosion Thursday evening that shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet (304 meters) into the air and sent frightened residents fleeing for safety, witnesses said.
The fire is burning in the town of San Brun, a few miles from San Francisco International Airport, prompting speculation it was sparked by a plane crash. Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency has no record of a crash. Spokesmen for local airports also said they knew of no missing planes.
Pacific Gas and Electric, the utility company that serves the San Francisco Bay area, is looking into the possibility of a natural gas explosion but had no additional information, said spokesman J.D. Guidi.
Live footage on KPIX-TV showed at least a dozen homes destroyed, with flames reaching as high as 60 feet (18 meters) in the air as the fire fueled itself on the burning homes. Planes and helicopters flew over the neighborhood dumping water in an effort to stanch the flames.
A person who answered the phone at Seton Medical Center in nearby Daly City but did not want to give her name said the hospital was on a triage alert because of people being brought to the hospital with injuries caused by the fire. She could provide no details about the number of injured people.
Witnesses say a loud explosion was felt just before the flames erupted around 6 p.m. local time.
Jane Porcelli, 62, said she lives on a hill above where the fire is centered. She said she thought she heard a plane overhead with a struggling engine.
"And then you heard this bang. And everything shook except the floor, so we knew it wasn't an earthquake," Porcelli said.
"I feel helpless that I can't do anything. I just gotta sit by and watch."
At 6:14 p.m., Stephanie Mullen, Associated Press news editor for photos based in San Francisco, was attending children's soccer practice with her two children and husband at Cresmoor High School when she saw the blast.
"First, it was a low deep roar and everybody looked up, and we all knew something big was happening," she said. "Then there was a huge explosion with a ball of fire that went up behind the high school several thousand feet into the sky.
"Everybody grabbed their children and ran and put their children in their cars," Mullen said. "It was very clear something awful had happened."
Several minutes later, Mullen was near the fire scene, about a half-mile away in a middle-class neighborhood of 1960s vintage homes in hills overlooking San Francisco, the bay and the airport. She said she could feel the heat of the fire on her face although she was three or four blocks away from the blaze. It appeared the fireball was big enough to have engulfed at least several homes.
"I could see families in the backyards of the homes next to where the fire was, bundling their children and trying to get them out of the backyards," she recounted.
She said people in the neighborhood were yelling "This is awful," "I live down there," and "My family is down there."


Updated : 2020-12-06 02:57 GMT+08:00