SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Fire crews were at the scene of an explosion and fire in San Francisco's Richmond District as flames consumed buildings in the area Wednesday afternoon.
An underground gas line exploded around 1 p.m. at Geary and Parker streets. Flames and smoke shot into the air for several hours as PG&E crews worked on a plan to turn off the gas. As of 3:30 p.m. the gas was turned off. SF Fire Department said the fire was put out at 4:18 p.m. after more than two hours of "free-flowing" fire.
No injuries were reported and everyone is accounted for, said San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White who addressed media at the scene.
According to San Francisco Fire, a crew was digging a hole in the middle of the street for fiber optics work. There were eight workers on the crew. San Francisco Fire believes a gas line was ruptured during the work. All eight workers have been accounted for.
PG&E confirmed a third party crew - not associated with PG&E - was working in the area and ruptured the gas line. It was originally reported to be a 12-inch gas line that was compromised, but as the evening wore on, PG&E said they believe it was actually a 4-inch gas line that was ruptured. Crews were able to squeeze the line off to stop the gas flow. A spokesperson said they would need to confirm this information after a thorough investigation.
According to the San Francisco Fire Department, the three-alarm fire damaged five buildings. The Hong Kong Lounge and H&R Block in the area were burned in the blaze.
The city's Department of Building Inspection said two of the buildings suffered major structural damage and three of the buildings suffered major water damage. The buildings affected are a mixture of residential on the top levels and commercial below.
Crews were letting the fire burn off and were working to keep it from spreading as PG&E worked to turn off the gas. Meanwhile, fire crews cut holes in the top of the building to vent the roof.
As many as 100 people are displaced by the fire, according to officials. The Red Cross offered assistance at Mel's Diner, a nearby business located on Geary Blvd.
Anyone displaced by the Inner Richmond District fire is welcome to shelter at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption, located at 1111 Gough St. The shelter was also available for those who experienced gas or power outages.
PG&E said around 6:30 p.m. that 300 customers are without gas and 235 customers are without electrical service, down from about 2,500 from an hour and a half earlier.
At an evening news conference, PG&E spokesman Blair Jones said the focus was now on service restoration, but there was no estimated time for that work to be complete.
Streets in the area were closed and evacuations were in place for a one block radius around the fire. Fire crews knocked on doors to make sure people in the area evacuated.
Several witnesses described hearing a rumble before watching people run from the scene. Another witness described the explosion sounding like a jet.
We are aware that a gas incident has occurred in the #SanFrancisco #Richmond area (3300 block of Geary Blvd). PLEASE AVOID THE AREA. We are working closely w/ first responders and will communicate more as information becomes available. pic.twitter.com/oJBXMBrYf2— PG&E (@PGE4Me) February 6, 2019
Muni says the incident at Geary and Parker was blocking the 38 in both directions. There were delays and the buses are being rerouted.
The San Francisco Unified School District told KTVU no schools were being evacuated due to the explosion, but that they would continue to monitor the situation.
Stay with KTVU.com for updates.