Utility advocate among dead in San Bruno blaze

Rescue workers discovered the remains of two bodies Saturday in the wreckage of a massive natural-gas explosion in San Bruno as federal authorities began an investigation into its cause.

Four people have been officially declared dead in the Thursday inferno in the Crestmoor neighborhood. Five people are still unaccounted for, according to police, and remains have been found in two separate areas, though they have not been confirmed as human, according to city spokesman Steve Firpo.

Residents could be allowed back into their homes about noon Sunday, said San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane. At least 37 homes have been destroyed, while another eight have been severely damaged. A number of other homes suffered less damage in the 15-acre burn area.

A state utilities consumer advocate who was involved in studies of gas lines near the blast was one of the people killed. Jacqueline Greig, 44, and her 13-year-old daughter Janessa Greig, were killed in their home at 1670 Claremont Drive. Grieg was a longtime employee of the California Public Utilities Commission’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates.

Jessica Morales, 20, was with her boyfriend, Joseph Ruigomez, 19, when the blast hit. The two were inside his parent’s house at the epicenter of the blast at 1701 Earl Ave. Morales died in the inferno while Ruigomez made it out of the house with severe burns.

He is one of four patients at St. Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco who are being treated at the Bothin Burn Center. About 60 people were treated at area hospitals and more than 40 people have come to the Red Cross for assistance.

Three of those patients are in life-threatening condition and a fourth has less-severe burns, according to surgeon Michael Kulick.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the blast, said the 30-inch-wide pipe was segmented where it broke. The gas in the pipe was also “odorized,” meaning residents would be able to smell any leaks. Some residents say they complained of gas smells in the weeks leading up to the blast.

begin@sfexaminer.com

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