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Fire cleanup complete

 | Published on 10/13/2010


The final load of debris was hauled out of a neighborhood where a natural gas pipeline explosion and fire completely destroyed 35 homes in San Bruno more than a month ago.

San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane, City Manager Connie Jackson and Dean Peterson, director of San Mateo County Environmental Health Services, shoveled the last bit of debris from homes into a loader yesterday afternoon as Glenview neighborhood residents looked on.

It was a welcome site for Bill Magoolaghan, whose family’s home on Claremont Drive was yellow-tagged by the county. The Magoolaghan’s home was not completely destroyed in the fire but is not currently habitable.

“The whole neighborhood is thankful for the cleanup effort,” he said.

His family is currently renting a home in Belmont and their Claremont Drive home will ultimately be torn down, he said.

On the night of the fire, Magoolaghan’s pregnant wife Betti and three children were forced to flee the neighborhood while Bill was still working.

Days after the fire, Magoolaghan expressed dissatisfaction with city officials and Pacific Gas and Electric for keeping his family from their home and for keeping residents in the dark on what dangers still existed in the neighborhood.

Magoolaghan’s wife Betti gave birth to their fourth child, Cole Ryan “Buster” Magoolaghan, this past Monday night as the Giants were battling the Braves.

“We watched the bottom of the ninth and then she gave birth,” he said. “It is a happy moment after all of this.”

The county orchestrated the $1.5 million cleanup effort through a contract with state agency CalRecycle.

“It is the end of the cleanup effort and a beginning for San Bruno,” Peterson said.

More than 7,000 tons of debris were removed from the neighborhood, he said.

All the debris that remains in the neighborhood is a huge pile of dirt and concrete dug up from the ground where a 30-inch PG&E natural gas pipeline exploded and left a 167-foot-long crater on the night of Sept. 9, leaving eight dead and dozens of families without homes. The city will handle the removal of the dirt pile, Peterson said.

Currently, the ruptured gas pipeline is capped within the crater.

The Magoolaghans may rebuild their home depending on what PG&E does with the pipeline.

“We have to bring our children back here. We’d have a hard time living here while the line is active,” Magoolaghan said.

Gas has been restored to the neighborhood despite the 30-inch pipeline being capped.

U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier, D-San Mateo, asked PG&E to move the gas transmission line out of the neighborhood.

“Currently we are working closely with the community and other stakeholders to determine the best alternative for the transmission line,” said PG&E spokeswoman Katie Romans.

For now, San Bruno’s mayor said it was time for a new start.

“It is time to get the neighborhood back together,” Ruane said. The mayor thanked the county for doing a “heck of a job” in the cleanup effort.

Now that the debris has been hauled away, San Bruno intends to make it easier for homeowners to rebuild.

The city will waive planning and building permit fees and speed up the planning process to rebuild.

“We want to make it a quick, easy process to rebuild lives and homes,” said Jackson, San Bruno’s city manager.