A Red Cross shelter has been set up at the Veterans Memorial Recreation Center, located at 251 City Park Way at Crystal Springs Road in San Bruno, according to spokeswoman Melanie Finke. Food and shelter will be provided.
Finke said members of the Red Cross team have told her that about 100 people were already at the shelter as of 8:15 p.m.
She said she is unsure at this time how many more people will show up. Finke said an evacuation shelter has also been established at the Bayhill Shopping Center by emergency officials and that some evacuees had opted to go there. The Bayhill Shopping Center is located at San Bruno and Cherry avenues.
Finke said the Red Cross is in the process of bringing in cots, blankets, food and water to the Red Cross shelter. She said basic health services would be available, but that people in need of treatment have sought other medical care.
Arrangements are also being made to bring in crisis counselors to provide emotional support.
“It is difficult at this point to know how many people are truly affected,” Finke said.
8:39 PM (BCN): The California Highway Patrol has closed several roads in the vicinity of an explosion and fire that is sweeping a San Bruno neighborhood tonight.
Several people have been injured and more than a dozen homes destroyed by the fire, which witnesses believe was caused by a gas line explosion.
The explosion was reported at about 6:15 p.m. near Skyline Boulevard and San Bruno Avenue, west of Interstate Highway 280.
The CHP closed both Highway 280 off-ramps at San Bruno Avenue and the northbound off-ramp at Skyline Boulevard, Officer Ralph Caggiano said.
Skyline Boulevard was also closed at Sneath Lane, and College Drive was closed at Skyline Boulevard.
8:20 PM: The American Red Cross is in the process of establishing a shelter for evacuees from the explosion and fire in San Bruno tonight.
The fire began after an explosion rocked the neighborhood at about 6:15 p.m. The blaze originated at Skyline Boulevard and San Bruno Avenue and spread throughout the adjacent neighborhood.
According to spokeswoman Melanie Finke, a Red Cross team is en route to the scene.
8:17 PM (BCN): More than a dozen homes have been engulfed in flames this evening and several people taken to local trauma centers after an explosion in San Bruno caused a massive fire to burn out of control.
Authorities said 80-foot flames have spread from the initial burn site, which was reported at about 6:15 p.m. at Skyline Boulevard and San Bruno Avenue.
Witnesses believe the fire is being fueled by a gas leak, but a PG&E spokesman said it’s too early to confirm the source of the blaze.
“I do know that gas and electric crews were called to the area,” spokesman J.D. Guidi said.
The company is still looking into the situation, he said.
“I would like to say that our thoughts and prayers are with those impacted by the tragedy,” Guidi said.
Residents originally believed a plane had crashed in the area due to the sound and force of the explosion, but a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration said he was unaware of any planes being unaccounted for.
A fire ball erupted into the sky earlier this evening.
“I heard rumble, rumble, rumble,” one resident said. “The whole house shook. After the rumbling, I heard a whomp sound, and that was it.”
Traffic merging onto Interstate Highway 280 from the neighborhood was almost at a stand-still tonight as residents loaded cars with pets and carrying cases and tried to leave the area.
Power appeared to be out in the neighborhood near the corner of Crestmoore Avenue and Trenton Drive as aircraft flew overhead.
A giant plume of smoke could be seen coming over the hill from the north side and heading down the peninsula as far as the eye could see.
One resident stood in her driveway and debated whether she should evacuate. She said some of her neighbors went down the street and saw cars burning.
A spokeswoman for San Francisco General Hospital said two patients, a man and a woman, were admitted in critical condition.
Five victims were also brought to the Mills Health Center in San Mateo with minor burns, a hospital spokeswoman said.
The majority of the burn patients appear to have been taken to the Kaiser Permanente, South San Francisco Medical Center.
7:50: The point of origin is now being specified as Sequoia Avenue And Sneath Lane. KTVU is also reporting that the gas from the broken main is no longer being released, and the flames are now being fueled “only” by burning homes. This is actually an improvement!
7 PM: There’s a huge fire burning in a residential area on San Bruno, in the area of San Bruno and Skyline Blvd.
While no one’s sure of the cause, they all agree that the fire began with a massive explosion. Some have speculated that this fire was caused by a plane crash, neither SFO nor the FAA are aware of any planes that have gone down. Others have said that perhaps a gas station exploded, but no one’s been able to confirm that, either.
The most convincing possibility thus far is a broken natural gas main — KTVU is quoting a source as saying PG&E line number 132 is to blame, a 16-24 inch pipe broke, and they don’t know when it’ll be fixed.
As of this writing, it’s really quite astonishing, I can’t really communicate how huge this fire is.
SFist is doing frequent updates on how it’s impacting the area, so we urge you to check them out. Otherwise, we’ll continue to update with content we receive from the Bay City News, but won’t be writing our own updates unless the blaze begins to have a more direct impact on San Francisco, proper.