sanbrunofiredamage.jpgSee all coverage of the San Bruno fire on this page

Hundreds of people packed a town hall meeting in San Bruno today to get questions answered about relief efforts for the aftermath of a massive explosion Thursday evening.

Local, state and federal officials answered written questions from residents for about an hour and a half. The meeting began at 2 p.m. today at St. Robert’s Catholic Church, located at 1380 Crystal Springs Road.

Residents displaced by Thursday’s explosion and fire will be able to begin returning to their homes as early as tomorrow, the city manager said at a town hall meeting.

An official announcement about when reentry will begin is expected Sunday morning, San Bruno City Manager Connie Jackson said. The process is expected to begin at noon Sunday, she added.

“Your neighborhood is far from restored,” Jackson said. “You can expect the area immediately surrounding remains severely damaged.”

The city is working on final details of a reentry plan that will require residents to report to a staging area and show identification to prove their residency, Jackson said. They will then be issued a wristband that will allow them access at checkpoints to the damaged neighborhood.

Residents will be assigned to “reentry zones” based on their address and escorted to their homes by police and fire personnel, Jackson said.

A representative from PG&E will also accompany each resident to their home to assure gas and electricity is turned on and the pilot light is lit, said PG&E Senior Vice President for energy delivery Geisha Williams.

Landline phone services will remain unusable for up to a week, Jackson said. Streetlights will be out for an undetermined amount of time, she added.

Vehicle traffic in and out of the affected area will be controlled by police and detour signs, police Chief Neil Telford said. Police will patrol the neighborhood for people not allowed in the neighborhood, he added.

A tagging system has been put in place to notify residents of the condition of their home.

Homes with green tags are not damaged in any way and can be permanently reoccupied, said San Bruno Community Development director Aaron Aknin.

Residents with yellow tags on their homes will be allowed to enter and retrieve items but they will not be allowed to stay, Aknin said. Homes with red tags are either destroyed or have major structural damage and must be demolished or undergo major reconstruction before being occupied, he added.

Residents who know their home is destroyed should not show up Sunday to the staging area.

A list of homes and their status are available at the city’s website at

Assistance in Spanish is available by calling (415) 699-1885.

Residents without identification should visit remote Department of
Motor Vehicles and Social Security outlets set up at Veterans Memorial Recreation Center, located at 251 City Park Way in San Bruno City Park. All California legal documents will be replaced for free, Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado said.

The center will remain open to assist victims through Tuesday or longer if necessary. Hours of operation will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Residents who left identification at home to flee the fire will be asked a series of questions to verify residency, Telford said.

Environmental health agencies completed inspections today on every home in the affected area and determined all hazardous materials from the explosion have been contained, fire Chief Dennis Haag said.

PG&E will have completed gas leak inspections on all accessible gas lines in the affected neighborhood by 9 p.m. today, PG&E’s Williams said. All other gas transmission lines will be inspected as soon as their accessible, she added.

State funds will help cover some of the city’s costs of battling the fire, said Rep. Jackie Speier. The city should also apply for federal assistance, she said.

“I have made it very clear to the state that we should make the request to the president for a state of emergency regardless of whether or not we’ve reached the threshold for federal funds,” Speier said.

The city will have to rely on the state and county funds and support from the Red Cross and PG&E if federal dollars are not made available, Speier said.

Andy Hamilton, Bay City News

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!