Construction workers cut gas line in San Francisco, explosion put five buildings on fire
A gas explosion shot flames into the air for hours Wednesday and burned five buildings.
"THE FIVE MISSING WORKERS HAVE BEEN LOCATED SAFE AND NOT INJURED," SFFD tweeted.
The fire department said the fire was caused by a gas explosion when a contracted company crew was doing fiber optic work underground in front of the Chinese dim sum restaurant, Hong Kong Lounge II and hit a gas line. The five workers are employees of the restaurant, who were reported unaccounted for shortly after the fire.
Footage from onlookers on social media showed towering flames erupting from the gas line in the Geary street in downtown San Francisco where the restaurant was located.
A two-story building was in flames, and the fire spread quickly to the nearby restaurant.
The SFFD urged the public to avoid the impact area and a middle school nearby was reportedly being evacuated.
Firefighters worked to keep the fire from spreading while Pacific Gas & Electric crews tried to shut off the natural gas line.
PG&E spokeswoman Melissa Subbotin said state excavation rules required crews to dig by hand around other pipelines before they were eventually able to “squeeze” a 4-inch plastic line.
She said that because the fire was contained to a limited area, the utility had to weigh the threat from the fire with the risk of more drastic action. ■