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4 dead, 53 homes destroyed in California fire

 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 massive fire roars through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from San Bruno and surroun...
 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...
 Map shows massive fire from possible gas line explosion in San Bruno, Calif.
 A woman is treated by firemen after an explosion in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Several homes were destroyed as a massive fire roared...
 A firefighter shoots water from his firehose at a massive fire, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010 in a neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikit...
 Two cars burned after a massive fire  roared through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters fr...
 A home for sale sign is shown in front of home that was destroyed after a massive fire that roared through a mostly residential neighborhood in San B...
 A helicopter drops water on a massive fire through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from...

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

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...

CALIF EXPLOSION

Map shows massive fire from possible gas line explosion in San Bruno, Calif.

Large Explosion

A woman is treated by firemen after an explosion in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Several homes were destroyed as a massive fire roared...

Large Explosion

A firefighter shoots water from his firehose at a massive fire, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010 in a neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif. (AP Photo/George Nikit...

Large Explosion

Two cars burned after a massive fire roared through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters fr...

Large Explosion

A home for sale sign is shown in front of home that was destroyed after a massive fire that roared through a mostly residential neighborhood in San B...

APTOPIX Large Explosion

A helicopter drops water on a massive fire through a mostly residential neighborhood in San Bruno, Calif., Thursday, Sept. 9, 2010. Firefighters from...

Fire crews flooded the ruins of burning homes with water early Friday and after a massive explosion apparently triggered by a broken gas line sent flames roaring through a neighborhood near San Francisco, killing at least four people and destroying more than 50 houses.
Thursday night's explosion was heard for miles and shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) in the air, sending frightened residents fleeing for safety and rushing to get belongings out of burning homes, witnesses said.
Utility officials said a natural gas line ruptured in the vicinity of the blast, which left a giant crater and sent flames tearing across several suburban blocks in San Bruno just after 6 p.m.
Coroner Michelle Rippy said Friday that officials at the scene confirmed at least four deaths. At least 20 others were injured, some with critical burns.
Authorities said there could be other casualties but the fire and darkness blocked them from checking.
After the initial blast, flames reached as high as 100 feet (30 meters) as the fire fueled itself on burning homes, leaving some in total ruins and reducing parked automobiles to burned out hulks. At least 120 homes also suffered serious damage.
The fire had spread to 10 acres (four hectares) and was 50 percent contained late Thursday, said Jay Allen, spokesman for the California Emergency Management Agency.
California Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado, acting governor while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was in Asia on a trade mission, declared a state of emergency in San Mateo County.
"It was like a bomb went off," Maldonado told CNN from the scene early Friday.
He said the cause of the conflagration was still unclear.
Pacific Gas and Electric Co. said Friday morning a damaged section of a 30-inch (76-centimeter) steel gas pipeline had been isolated and gas flow had been stopped. About 300 customers were without gas service and about 700 without electricity at 4 a.m. Friday.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Friday that it has sent a four-member team to San Bruno to investigate the blast.
Fire Capt. Charlie Barringer said the neighborhood was engulfed by the time firefighters arrived, even though the fire station was only a few blocks away. He said the blast took out the entire water system, forcing firefighters to pump water from more than two miles (three kilometers) away.
Victims suffering from serious burns began arriving at San Francisco Bay area hospitals shortly after the blast. An estimate of the number of injured wasn't immediately available.
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 Crestmoor High School when she saw the blast at 6:14 p.m.
"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.
___
Associated Press Writers Juliana Barbassa in San Bruno and Marcus Wohlsen, John S. Marshall and Jason Dearen in San Francisco contributed to this report.


Updated : 2021-08-02 19:18 GMT+08:00