San Bruno Crater Filled with Dirt, Tears

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    NEWSLETTERS

    More than one year after the deadly natural gas pipeline explosion  in San Bruno's Crestmoor Canyon neighborhood, residents gathered for a quiet  ceremony Tuesday morning to shovel dirt into a crater left behind by the blast.

        Dozens of neighborhood residents and city officials lined up  behind San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane to throw dirt over a portion of the  now-inactive pipeline, which exploded Sept, 9, 2010, killing eight people and  destroying 38 homes.

       Ruane, who threw the first shovelful of dirt into the crater at  the intersection of Earl Avenue and Glenview Drive, said filling in the hole  is another important step in rebuilding the community.

       "This is a very important day among many important days," Ruane  said. "Most important of all, this pipe is empty and will never be filled  again."

       People applauded when the mayor shoveled what he said was "a small  piece of dirt into a very large hole."

       San Bruno residents young and old took turns shoveling dirt into  the crater after the mayor and City Council members had their turn, saying it  felt good to take part in filling the hole in the middle of their  neighborhood.

       Resident Bennett Bibell smiled and said it was part of the  community's healing process to take part in the ceremony.

      "It's a symbolic change from what we've been going through,"  Bibell said. "It's time to fill in that hole."

       Last month, federal investigators blamed PG&E for a number of  failures that led to the pipeline explosion, saying the utility's lax system  of record-keeping and inspections failed to find a flawed section of pipe  that was installed in 1956.

       Glenda Carney used to live in a house that was just across the  street from where the pipeline exploded. Her house was destroyed in the fire  that followed.

       Carney was at home on the evening of the disaster, and today she  had on the same pair of shoes she was wearing when she ran out the backdoor  of her house to save herself.

       She also took a turn shoveling a load of dirt into the crater.

       "I hope this means it's over," Carney said.

       After this morning's symbolic ceremony, construction crews  continued the work of covering the hole completely.