On a serious note, my thoughts and good wishes go out to the people in San Bruno affected by this horrific disaster. A couple of my friends live in the area, though fortunately not close to the site of the explosion. From the Bay Citizen:
As rescue workers and a dozen police dogs combed the smoldering Crestmoor neighborhood in San Bruno for bodies, federal agents opened an investigation into the cause of Thursday’s natural gas explosion. The death toll climbed to four, with more than 50 people injured and an unknown number still missing.
The morning-after picture of the disaster was one of charred devastation, with an entire residential enclave reduced to ash. Officials said that 38 homes were destroyed, down from an original estimate of 53, and seven more were severely damaged. A growing army of government agencies and volunteers was descending on a San Bruno community center to assist with the aftermath.
By 2 p.m., the fire was reported to be fully contained with a few hot spots, according to the city’s fire chief, and search teams had covered 75 percent of the area looking for victims, with the rest of the area still too hot to enter.
PG&E said gas to the area had been turned off, but company officials refused to disclose how long it took to shut down the flow of gas that stoked the raging fire well into the evening after the blast occurred shortly after 6 p.m.
Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board joined others from the California Public Utilities Commission to try to sort out what happened, as a growing number of residents complained that PG&E knew of a leak and may even have performed work in the area in the days leading up to the disaster.
Besides the possible PG&E culpability, this really stuck out for me:
Hill said the pipe that ruptured was installed in 1948.
As Atrios points out:
Aside from the accountability/responsibility issue, it’s also a wee reminder that our infrastructure is old and crumbling, and the impacts of that can range from troubling to catastrophic…