A natural gas line that ruptured Thursday night sending a fireball high into the sky in a California neighborhood has killed at least four people and destroyed dozens of homes.
The number is likely to rise as cadaver dogs search for more bodies in the stricken San Bruno area, near San Francisco.
The fire was so intense, even the pavement melted. The blast took out the area's entire water system, forcing firefighters to pump in water from two miles away.
Witnesses said It was a monstrous blast that seemed to come out of nowhere. Suddenly, an entire neighborhood was up in flames.
Fueled by a broken gas line and strong winds, the massive fire roared through the San Bruno residential neighborhood throughout the night, reducing dozens of homes to ash within an hour.
"The fireball was a hundred feet or more in the air. I'm a firefighter, so I knew it was a major, major thing," local resident Neil Wild said. "And it just would not stop, so we knew it was some kind of gas main, cause it just kept going."
Some residents were so shocked they didn't know what was happening.
"I heard a noise, boom. I think it's a earthquake," One witness said recalling the moment of the blast.
Other witnesses said the blaze was preceded by a loud explosion and huge fireball, and that people soon began rushing to get belongings out of their burning homes.
Crews from San Bruno and surrounding areas battled the fire on the ground, while planes and helicopters dropped fire retardant usually reserved for wildfires.
"My heart was beating so fast because the fire was so close to other houses and other neighbors, like, I just can't imagine what would happen," one witness said.
Pacific Gas and Electric said a 30-inch gas pipe ruptured about three feet underground, but has no record of its crews working in that area at the time.
The mayor of San Bruno, Jim Ruane, said a terrible tragedy has fallen on the city.
"I would ask anybody who sees this broadcast tonight to say a special prayer for those people," Ruane said. "This is going to be a long haul for the city and all of our residents for a number of weeks to come."