SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — The aftermath of last year’s chaos still remains at the intersection of Geary Boulevard and Parker Avenue.
It was the afternoon of Feb. 6, 2019 when workers accidentally ruptured a PG&E gas line causing an explosion and fire in San Francisco’s inner Richmond neighborhood.
It happened around 1:15 p.m. — during the lunch rush.
“When we got outside it was blazing,” Denise Thomas said. “Like it was the biggest fire that I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Denise Thomas works nearby.
“That day, I don’t know it was just faith or something because nobody was in the building when it happened,” she said. “They were digging a big hole right here in the middle of the street.”
The flames were high as 40 feet for more than two hours.
The National Transportation Safety Board spent days at the scene.
A preliminary report said the gas line that was struck by a third party contractor, ignited in less than 10 seconds.
The five employees were able to escape injury because of “audible and visual clues” that indicated they had struck the gas line.
At least four buildings suffered serious damage.
The official cause could take another year and NTSB spokesperson Eric Weiss explained why.
“The reasons why they are so lengthy is because we look not only at what happened which often doesn’t take very long to figure out, but why it happened,” Weiss said. “And to also come up with the recommendations to prevent something like this from happening again.”
While the H&R Block has been rebuilt and reopened, other businesses have slowed down.
“It’s been a lot quieter because this building was affected, the building across the street, they finally rebuilt it,” Thomas said. “This used to be a really busy corner and it hasn’t been busy in over a year now.”
“It’s literally taken us over six months to really get back up and running on a regular business level,” Ronaldo Vezzali said.
Weeks after the explosion, two people filed a lawsuit against the company that broke the gas line.
Another lawsuit has been filed involving a street worker suffering injuries from debris.
One of the lawsuits will go to trial in September.
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