More burned San Bruno homes meet bulldozer fate

Three months after the San Bruno gas explosion, the disaster has officially claimed three more homes.

A 30-inch transmission pipeline owned by PG&E exploded Sept. 9, and the initial blast and fire killed eight people and injured dozens more.

It took an hour and 46 minutes for PG&E to shut off fuel in the line, during which time first-responders tried to keep the fire from spreading. In the end, 35 homes were completely destroyed and were demolished this fall. Fifty-eight other homes were damaged.

On Tuesday night, the San Bruno City Council approved a plan to demolish three more homes that had been yellow-tagged, meaning they were too damaged to occupy but not so damaged that they required bulldozing.

Additional inspections by insurance companies determined that the homes were so damaged it would be more expensive to repair than replace them.

The city will receive $90,000 from PG&E to pay for the demolition by a private contractor.

One of the homes that will be demolished is owned by Arturo Vasquez, who was home the night of the fire but escaped unscathed. When he returned to his home, almost everything in it had been licked by flames.

The home was initially red-tagged, which meant no one could enter it. After a reassessment, it was downgraded to a yellow tag, so Vasquez and his wife could enter.

“If you could name a piece of furniture in your home, from a chair to a lamp, it was destroyed,” he said. “But there were nooks and crannies where there were little surprises, mementos that didn’t burn.”

Now Vasquez is ready for the home to be demolished.

“It’s been kind of an ongoing source of angst. There’s so much mold in it now. We’re ready to have it torn down,” he said. “It’ll be a relief to have that out of the way and feel like we’re moving forward.”

kworth@sfexaminer.com

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