have received a report of a resident smelling gas a few weeks prior to
Thursday’s gas line explosion and fire in San Bruno and are asking more
residents to step forward with information that will help them
determine if the pipe was leaking before the incident.
So far the agency has received almost 90 e-mails from residents,
including the one from the person who reported smelling gas and
notifying PG&E, National Transportation Safety Board vice chairman
Christopher Hart said at a news conference Tuesday.
He said the agency is asking residents to report whether they
smelled gas and if they contacted any officials about it, be it
representatives from PG&E, emergency officials, or the California
Public Utilities Commission.
“We’re trying to figure out if (the pipe) failed
catastrophically or by virtue of a leak, with gas meeting air and then
being sparked,” Hart said.
He said the ruptured pipe was en route Tuesday afternoon to Washington, D.C., for investigation.
The rupture caused a fire that killed four people, injured about
50, and destroyed at least 37 homes in San Bruno’s Crestmoor Canyon
The transportation safety board is also trying to establish a
timeline to determine how long it took for gas in the area to be turned
off after the pipe ruptured, Hart said.
He added that a PG&E gas line failed in San Francisco in
1982, which prompted the agency to make recommendations related to
responding to emergencies.
The timeline would assess how quickly and effectively officials responded to last week’s incident, Hart said.
It would help investigators determine if employees were adequately trained and if turn-off valves were properly preserved.