Death toll rises to 6 in California gas blast

SAN BRUNO, Calif. (AP) - Search teams have found the remains of 2 more people who were killed in the suburban San Francisco blast that destroyed nearly 40 homes, raising the death toll to six, authorities said Saturday.

San Bruno city spokesman Steve Firpo said the remains were found Saturday morning. He had no other details.

Earlier the San Mateo County Coroner's office said 44-year-old Jacqueline Greig, her daughter 13-year-old Janessa, and 20-year-old Jessica Morales were killed in the Thursday evening explosion and fire. One other victim found earlier has yet to be identified.

The cause of the pipeline blast - which injured at least 50 people, some critically - is under investigation.

State and federal authorities say the section of gas pipeline that ruptured and exploded in a suburban San Francisco neighborhood had been ranked as high risk. A California Public Utilities Commission spokeswoman says the transmission pipe received the designation because it ran through a highly populated area.

Some residents were allowed back into a limited area to retrieve belongings, but San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane said he doubts any will be able to return permanently Saturday.

"We want to make sure that the gas lines are safe," he said.

A group of local, state and federal officials toured the damaged area and described a ghost-town full of remnants of cars melted in driveways and pieces of houses, some left with just the chimney standing.

Besides the 40 homes leveled by the blast, seven were severely damaged, while dozens of other houses suffered less severe damage in the fire that sped across 15 acres.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)