Nightly News | September 14, 2010
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now we turn to California , where, for the first time , we're hearing what it sounded like when that gas explosion leveled part of a neighborhood in San Bruno , south of San Francisco , and we're hearing it from the perspective of the first responders who were trying to make sense of what they were seeing and hearing, what was going on there. Again tonight, our own Miguel Almaguer is in San Bruno for us. Miguel , good evening.
MIGUEL ALMAGUER reporting: Brian , good evening. That dinnertime blast claimed lives, and it destroyed the community behind me. We're only about three miles away from San Francisco International Airport , and after the explosion, just about everyone here feared the worst.
Offscreen Voice #1: It appears that we have a plane down in the neighborhood, multiple structures on fire, and we have a fireball still coming out.
ALMAGUER: As firefighters raced toward the flames, the blast sent neighbors running for their lives.
Mr. KEN CHETCUTI (South San Francisco Police Department): It was a pretty chaotic scene going down the hill, people running up the hill just trying to get out.
ALMAGUER: The heat was so intense, the inferno so massive, it took nearly a half hour to determine this was no plane crash.
Offscreen Voice #2: This does not appear that this is an aircraft down. It appears that this is some sort of natural gas explosion .
ALMAGUER: The cause of Thursday's gas line rupture that killed at least four people is still under investigation.
Mr. JOHN PRIOLO: I grew up here, I work here, and it's my family.
ALMAGUER: Firefighter John Priolo:
Mr. PRIOLO: You're seeing people run up to you, they're burnt. They're looking at us for help, and right then and there we didn't have the resources.
ALMAGUER: Chaos and confusion, and then no way to fight the fire.
Offscreen Voice #3: We think we got a broken water main down here, so they need to lay in from the corner of San Bruno Avenue .
Mr. BILL FORESTER (San Bruno Fire Department): It's a sinking feeling, to say the least , because you count on that water being there; and if there was ever a time where you needed it, it was there.
ALMAGUER: This neighborhood burned for a day and a half. By the time crews beat back the flames, nearly 40 homes were destroyed, hundreds more damaged. Federal investigators have wrapped up their probe in the blast zone behind me. We're told their preliminary report could take about 30 days. And while at least four people are dead tonight, Brian , another three are still missing.
WILLIAMS: Miguel Almaguer on the job in San Bruno , California , again tonight. Miguel , thanks for that.