Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse for bankrupt California utility PG&E, it got worse.
On Wednesday afternoon, PG&E - which filed for bankruptcy last week as a result of $30 billion in legal liabilities resulting from California's massive 2017 and 2018 wildfires its equipment may have ignited - was working to contain a natural gas leak from a pipeline that exploded on Wednesday along a major thoroughfare in San Francisco, setting fire to five buildings and leaving thousands without power in Inner Richmond, while prompting people in nearby restaurants to run for their lives as fire crews worked to get a handle on the soaring flames.
The fire erupted just before 1:30 p.m. in front of Hong Kong Lounge II by the intersection of Geary Boulevard and Parker Avenue, officials said according to the SF Chronicle.
The fire triggered an evacuation order for people within a block of the site on Geary Boulevard, a major artery that leads into downtown San Francisco, according to the San Francisco Fire Department. According to Bloomberg, which quoted San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White, eight workers near the explosion have been accounted for and no injuries were reported.
Eight construction workers, hired by an unidentified third-party contractor, were digging in the ground to install fiber optic cables when they hit a gas main, Hayes-White said.
PG&E’s stock plunged as much as 6.3 percent following this latest accident which threatens to pile up even more legal bills on the insolvent utility, which in addition to wildfire costs, is still dealing with the consequences of the San Bruno gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people and leveled 38 homes.
"I’m confident that it’ll be contained soon,” Hayes-White told reporters at the scene. “As soon as the gas leak is tamped down, we’ll have it under control." The alternative, of course, being that a section of San Francisco burns down is probably too dire for PG&E's management to even consider.
Hayes-White described the explosion and ensuing fire as extensive but noted that it’s “not as extensive” as the San Bruno blast.
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