Vigil set for mother, daughter killed in gas line blast next to home in San Francisco suburb

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Vigil set for 2 killed in Calif. gas line blast

SAN FRANCISCO — One week after a gas pipeline explosion ripped through a quiet neighborhood and the lives of its residents, mourners were gathering Thursday to remember a mother and daughter who died in the blast.

A vigil was planned for Jacqueline Greig, 44, a longtime California Public Utilities Commission analyst, and her 13-year-old daughter, Janessa, at St. Cecilia Church in San Francisco. The church is connected to the school where Janessa attended 8th grade and wrote for the school paper.

The pipeline blew up just behind from their home, obliterating it and nearly 40 others in the hilly neighborhood of 1960s-era homes overlooking San Francisco Bay.

Greig had spent the last few months looking into PG&E’s proposal to replace out-of-date pipes — with no idea that one of those pipes ran through her own neighborhood — said Pearlie Sabino, one of Greig’s co-workers.

A vigil for Jessica Morales, 20, is scheduled for Friday. She was visiting her boyfriend, Joseph Ruigomez, and settling in to watch the season’s first NFL game at his house when the explosion ripped through the street, her friends told the San Francisco Chronicle. He remained in critical condition.

Elizabeth Torres, 81, lived two doors down from the Greigs, where she raised nine children over the last 40 years. She had just returned from a gambling trip to Napa Valley and was with family, getting ready to watch the New Orleans Saints taken on the Minnesota Vikings, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Two of her daughters and a son-in-law were recovering from severe burns in a local hospital.

Authorities said three people are still listed as missing. They all lived at the same address, just yards from the source of the blast.

As residents in the less damaged homes remember their neighbors and try to return to their routines, government agencies have started to plan the removal of contaminated ash left by the fire.

Crews have sprayed water on ash piles to keep the wind from scattering them until a contractor can haul them out. The dust is likely tainted with toxic chemicals from the incinerated cars, asbestos, light bulbs and batteries, and breathing it in could harmful, said San Mateo County environmental health director Dean Peterson.

“The ash is sitting there, and is something that has to be handled in a very specific way so it does not create a public health hazard or environmental danger,” he said.

County workers also have placed sand bags around storm drains to keep the ash from getting into a nearby creek as the rainy season starts.

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