The explosion happened at around 6 p.m. local time, the height of the rush hour.
At first eyewitnesses thought a plane had gone down as San Bruno is close to San Francisco International Airport:
“It sounded like the sound that a jet makes when it’s in full throttle taking off, but it continued, and that didn’t make sense, as if it was an airplane that crashed the engines would not be still sounding like that. So I came out and walked across the street and I could see the flames just over the buildings here, and for at least ten minutes or more, I think it was much longer, it was a continuous wooshing sound as if it was a fed fire,” said one witness.
Early attempts to battle the blaze were hampered by a lack of water:
“The reason why they had such a problem is that it blew the water main…There’s no water: that’s why they’re shuttling water in right now, they were waiting for water to put all the stuff out, they didn’t have water for at least a half hour,” said another.
Many residents are unsure if their homes are still standing.
“I saw huge flames shooting in the air, I walked up from there and this is as far as I can get….it’s pure speculation on my part as to whether or not the home is burned..I can’t get any information from anybody,” said one concerned resident.
A state of emergency has been declared, which will free up state and federal help for the area.