Death toll rises to 7 in Calif. explosion

Sept. 11, 2010 at 11:57 PM
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SAN BRUNO, Calif., Sept. 11 (UPI) -- The death toll in the gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., rose to seven Saturday with six other people still missing, officials said.

The Los Angeles Times reported San Bruno Police Chief Neil Telford confirmed seven were deadand six were missing three days after the deadly explosion and fire.

Search-and-rescue crews were still going through the disaster area with cadaver dogs. Some of the area had been too hot for cadaver dogs to operate Friday, delaying the search for victims.

The blast and fire destroyed 37 houses in the San Francisco Bay-area town and damaged eight more. A total of 52 people were reported injured.

"In a split second, a flash, our lives changed forever," Mayor Jim Ruane told residents who packed the pews at St. Robert's Catholic Church. "This has been a tragedy of immense proportion."

The National Transportation Safety Board, which oversees gas pipelines, was heading up the investigation into the blast. The 30-foot pipeline is operated by Pacific Gas & Electric.

The San Francisco Chronicle said one of the fatalities in the explosion was 44-year-old Jacqueline Greig, a longtime employee of the California Public Utilities Commission who specialized in consumer issues related to natural gas rates. One of her projects was examining what Pacific Gas & Electric charged its customers for pipeline inspections.

"It's really unbelievably ironic," said Mindy Spatt, spokeswoman for the consumer group The Utility Reform Network. "She has been a tireless and wonderful advocate for consumers for many years."

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