SAN BRUNO, Calif. – New health concerns were being raised Thursday night in the San Bruno fire zone. Officials expressed concerns about the toxic health risk posed by the burned cars, homes and other items in the area.
The gas pipe that exploded is described by PG&E as a 40 or 50-year-old 30-inch pipe that is buried about 2.5 to 3 feet underground. 15 acres were damaged by the fire. About six blocks suffered the most damage.
38 homes were completely destroyed and 7 others suffered substantial damage. A water main and sewer main were damaged by the firestorm as well.
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Fire Zone Declared Hazardous Site
The possibility of rain this weekend has heightened County environmental health officials concerns for the public’s safety in the San Bruno fire zone.
Officials have declared the fire zone a hazardous site and have begun implementing procedures for the public’s protection.
The intense heat from last week’s San Bruno gas-line explosion and fire incinerated everything, releasing potentially deadly toxins from asbestos as well as poisons and heavy metals contained in electronics and automobiles.
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Fire Zone Remains Untested For Chemical Threats
Experts acknowledged that the area has not yet been tested for possible chemical threats. “We’re deciding to handle this material, as it would be hazardous,” said San Mateo County Environmental Health Director Dean Peterson “Not hazardous waste, but hazardous.”
Homeowners were required to wear masks and protective gear while sifting through what remained of their lives following the fire that raged through their homes.
“[There are] not only very dangerous neurotoxins and carcinogens, but they build up in the food chain,” said San Francisco Baykeeper spokesperson Deb Self. “That site will continue to be a source of pollution until the cleanup is completed.”
KTVU reported Thursday that the county expects to sign a $1.3 million cleanup contract to clear the home sites on Friday. The work is scheduled to be finished within four weeks.
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“We’ll remove, we’ll dispose, and what we’ll end up at the end will be clean properties that will have a seal of certification that it is clean,” said Peterson.
Until then, health officials are urging everyone to avoid direct contact with the ash and debris at the site and to especially avoid breathing it.
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