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San Bruno fire contained; search continues for possible victims

September 10, 2010 |  1:04 pm

160957.ME.0910.San-Bruno-Fire_2.06.DPB

Officials said Friday the fire caused by a gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, Calif., has been contained.

Searchers have combed through 75% of the homes destroyed by the blast and there are no residents unaccounted for. But they won't know for certain about additional victims until they search the remaining homes, which are now too hot to enter.

At least four people were killed and 52 injured in the explosion and fire.

Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado, serving as acting governor while Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is in Asia, declared a state of emergency in the Crestmoor neighborhood.

A total of 52 people have been hospitalized, including three with third-degree burns. Four firefighters who suffered smoke inhalation were treated and released.

Millbrae Fire Chief Dennis Haag walked the neighborhood early Friday morning, counting the number of destroyed houses.

"It was pretty devastating. ... It looks like a moonscape in some areas," Haag said.

The site of the explosion is marked by a 30-foot-diameter crater filled with water. Chunks of asphalt are strewn about, and melted cars line a nearby road.

Residents desperate to check on their homes and loved ones gathered Friday at a barricade outside the neighborhood.

Kevin Matsukura, 18, a freshman at Skyline College who lives within a block of the explosion, went to the barricade with his father. He said he was at home when he heard the blast and his ears began popping.

“I was just sitting in my room. It just kept getting louder. I thought it would be another earthquake,” he said. “It sounded like a plane overhead."

--Tony Barboza, Paloma Esquivel, Molly Hennessy-Fiske in San Bruno and Rong-Gong Lin and Sam Quinones in Los Angeles

Photo: Firefighters check for hot spots in the rubble of homes along Claremont Drive in San Bruno, Calif. Credit: Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

Photos: Fire in San Bruno

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