Gas Explosion in San Bruno, CA
On Thursday, September 9th around 5:00pm, a gas pipeline exploded in the Glenview neighborhood in the city of San Bruno near the San Francisco Airport. Four people were killed and 37 homes were destroyed or damaged.
SDF Search Team Tom Carney and his partner Gypsy were called to their department (South San Francisco Fire) to pack their equipment for a potential deployment. They were placed on standby until midnight when the gas in the pipeline was shut off at the scene. By 6:30 am the next morning they arrived at the disaster scene to search for survivors.
They were part of a Canine Search squad of 18 Canine-Handler teams. The disaster site was divided into six search areas, with one live-search dog, one cadaver dog, and one “mixed team” (certified in both live- and cadaver-search). The dogs were able to make quick work of their sections, running over the remains of houses to ensure that no one had been trapped alive under the debris. Most of the ground they were searching was covered in ashes, making the terrain especially difficult to navigate. The search area was very hot, and the dogs were rested and cooled frequently and veterinarians were on hand to care for them if needed.
On Saturday, rescue teams used water to cool the site. Tom acted as the liaison between the Incident Commander and the handlers. He set up wash stations for the animals, worked with the vets, and ensured that the handlers and canines had a continuous flow of fresh water.
"It is very hard for rescuers to work at a scene this large. As always, they were thankful that these highly trained dogs were there to help ensure that everything was being done to find survivors and recover victims. Gypsy adapted immediately to the unfamiliar environment, finding her footing well in the rubble and, as always, enjoying the search to the fullest and approaching it with great energy and skill."