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San Bruno explosion, fire: Search-and-rescue operations postponed due to fire danger

 

Crews have not been able to attempt search-and-rescue operations in San Bruno after a ruptured gas transmission line caused an explosion and six-alarm fire Thursday because the danger has been too high, a San Bruno spokesman said.

The fire has destroyed dozens of homes and displaced hundreds of residents. At least one person is confirmed dead and more than 20 injured.

Safety assessment teams plan to convene at 6 a.m. Friday to review the damage, spokesman John Alita said.

Units from nine cities in San Mateo County responded to the blaze, which burned more than 150 homes Thursday night, Alita said.

More than 200 law enforcement officials were providing perimeter control Thursday night and early Friday morning as firefighters worked to keep the blaze from spreading to more homes.

Emergency declared

A state of emergency has been declared following the massive gas explosion that rocked San Bruno Thursday evening.

State Sen. Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, whose district encompasses San Bruno, ventured into the heart of his community to assess the damage and develop a plan to assist those affected in coming weeks.

Cal Fire reported that 53 homes have been destroyed and 120 have been damaged.

State emergency resources have been deployed to San Bruno, including crews from the California Emergency Management Agency and Cal Fire.

At least two air tankers, two helicopters and 10 engines provided by both agencies are responding at the scene, although a compromised water main has been interfering with efforts to extinguish the still-burning fires.

"With that fire on the hillside, the pressure's just not enough," Sen. Yee said.

He said he went San Bruno Thursday to begin planning a long-term recovery effort.

"We need to assess on a long-term basis how the locals are able to handle the housing, the food and the clothing of these particular displaced individuals," he said.

A thorough investigation of the fire's cause is expected to take weeks, and in the meantime, part of the recovery process could include the introduction of state legislation that would direct relief dollars to the affected region.

Beyond the shelters set up by the American Red Cross, local businesses -- including a winery in San Carlos -- are also welcoming those displaced by the explosion and resulting fires, Sen. Yee said.

"It's just heartwarming to know that when people are in distress and trouble that their neighbors and community are willing to open up their doors and their wallets to help," he said.

● Access to gas lines needed to learn cause of explosion, officials say .

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