Thursday, December 25, 2008

Wow - a couple miles from where I lived as a teen

Rancho Cordova site closed and reopened again:

Earlier Thursday, PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith said the investigation was transferred to the NTSB "because the gas pipelines run underneathe the streets."

A NTSB spokeswoman confirmed Thursday morning that investigator Karl Gunther will arrive in Sacramento on Monday morning to begin the investigation.

The cause of the blast has not been determined, though local authorities said they suspect it was fueled by natural gas.

PG&E crews had been searching for a natural gas leak on Paiute Way in Rancho Cordova since Wednesday morning before a violent explosion leveled one house, leaving one man dead and five people injured.

A Sacramento County coroner's official said Wilbert Paana, 72, died from injuries Wednesday night. Two other victims remain in critical condition.

Neighbors said residents on Paiute Way had been calling PG&E through Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning, complaining of a strong scent of gas in their homes and outside.

"Nobody did nothing about it until this morning, and it was too late," said Gigi Lopez, whose home was one of two damaged by the 1:40 p.m. blast.

PG&E spokesman Brian Swanson said the utility received its first complaint a 9:15 a.m. Wednesday. He said PG&E sent a worker to the neighborhood at 10 a.m. He said second person was sent to relieve the first worker at 1 p.m. Wednesday.

The workers tried to locate the source of the leak, but could not shut off gas in an isolated area until they pinpointed the leak's exact location, Swanson said.

"We didn't get to that point," Swanson said.

The second PG&E worker at the scene of the blast – 10708 Paiute Way – was taken to a hospital with minor burns and lacerations. Swanson said the worker was treated and released.

Paana was one of three victims who suffered third-degree burns and were taken to UC Davis Medical Center. The other two patients remained in critical condition Wednesday night, according to hospital spokeswoman Phyllis Brown.

According to Brown, they are Kim Dickson, described as in her mid-40s, and Sunny Dickson, a 17-year-old who was being transferred to the burn unit at Shriners Hospitals for Children Northern California.

Brown said she could not confirm that they are related to Paana. A neighbor, however, said the residents of the home were a family.

State records list Kim Dickson, 44; Wilbert Paana, 72; and a 21-year-old man as adult residents of the home at 10708 Paiute Way. County records show the property was owned by Paana.

Words escape me, and I wouldn't have known anyone involved in the blast. At bare minimum, PG&E's response to the initial complaint prior to the explosion was - to say the least - sluggish.

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