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Search for Victims of California Gas Pipeline Blast Begins

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Officials in San Bruno, California expect that the death toll from a natural gas pipeline explosion will rise. Four people are confirmed dead, but the search for victims has only just begun.

The explosion occurred around 6:00 p.m. last night. According to a report on CNN, a Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) spokesman said Friday that the company’s gas transmission line ruptured, leading to the blaze that swept through 10 acres in the San Francisco suburb. The fire burned hot enough to melt tail lights on cars blocks away from the blaze.

The heat from the fire is still so intense at the scene that investigators have not been able to get close to the ruptured gas pipe to find the cause of the massive explosion.

More than 50 people suffered burns and smoke inhalation, and at least three are being treated for third-degree burns. Fifty three homes were destroyed and another 170 were damaged.

The search for additional victims had been hampered by persistent flames. Search teams only began moving into the smoldering wreckage this afternoon.

According to various media reports, residents of San Bruno say PG&E had been alerted to smells of leaking gas earlier this week and had sent work crews to investigate. Residents were reportedly told to close their garage doors to avoid smelling the gas odor. So far, PG&E has not commented on those reports.

The California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates PG&E, said it was launching a formal investigation into the explosion.

”The CPUC currently has an investigator on the scene to obtain evidence, and during the next few days will work with local officials and federal agencies to gather all relevant information about the incident and obtain information from Pacific Gas and Electric Company,” the commission said in a statement.

The National Transportation Safety Board also said it has started an investigation into yesterday’s explosion and fire.

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