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San Francisco gas explosion triggers major blaze, mass evacuation (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

San Francisco gas explosion triggers major blaze, mass evacuation (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)
It took three hours for firefighters in San Francisco to put out a massive blaze caused by a suspected gas pipe rupture and an explosion at a construction site.

At least five buildings were affected by the blaze, following a gas line explosion near Geary Boulevard and Parker Avenue on Wednesday afternoon. The inferno, close to the Richmond District, reached a third alarm by 1:50pm as fire crews battled to contain it.

The incident occurred when construction workers installing a fiber cable line accidentally punctured a gas pipe with a backhoe, San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White told reporters. The fracture sparked an explosion and fire which quickly spread to surrounding buildings.

The firefighters were desperately trying to keep the fire under control but their efforts were being hindered by the gas that continued to flow through the line, Hayes-White said.

Utility company PG&E only managed to switch off the gas supply almost two-and-a-half hours after the explosion, just before 4:00 pm local time. Shortly afterward, firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze.

So far no deaths or injuries have been reported. Five workers at the construction site, who were initially reported missing, have now been found. Approximately 3,000 people are now left without electricity or gas, local news outlets reported, noting that “under 100” were displaced by the blaze.

Plumes of smoke could be seen from blocks away. The public was being asked to stay clear of the area, while evacuations were ordered for a one-block radius around the explosion and fire zone. All traffic in the area is still disrupted, with bus routes diverted away from the accident area.

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