The incident occurred in the city of Inner Richmond on February 6, 2019. Fortunately, no one was injured. Nearby buildings were rapidly evacuated and traffic was rerouted.
It took about 2 hours until Pacific Gas & Electric crews eventually were able to stop gas from fueling the fire. According to state law, the crews have to dig by hand around other pipelines before "squeezing" a 10-cm plastic line. The utility stated that it had to weigh the explosion hazard with the risk of a more drastic incident and officials chose not to shut off the pipeline as soon as possible.
"Had we turned the gas off to a transmission system, we would have shut off gas to nearly the entire city of San Francisco. The objective of this was to turn the gas off safely and as quickly as possible," PG&E spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin stated.
Nick Jalali, a local resident who had to evacuate his house said: "We just felt the shaking, and the next thing we knew, people were banging on the door to tell people it's time to start evacuating."
The causes of the explosion are being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board. According to spokesman Eric Weiss, an 8-person crew has arrived in the scene to gather information and find out more about the incident.
"We're going to look at not only what happened but why it happened and see if there are any lessons to be learned for future safety," Weiss stated.
According to recent updates, the explosion occurred after construction workers accidently hit a natural gas pipe while they were installing fiber-optic cables.