Eric Brooks / KCBS Radio

Businesses Still Without Gas And Power After Geary Boulevard Fire

Matt Bigler
February 07, 2019 - 2:31 pm

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS Radio) -- The fire may be out at the scene of Wednesday's gas line explosion and three alarm blaze in San Francisco's Inner Richmond District. But for the residents and businesses near the scene, the recovery promises to be slow and uneven.

A section of westbound Geary Boulevard between Spruce and Parker Streets remained closed Thursday afternoon, a day after flames shot three stories into the air from a gas pipeline struck by private contractors working on an underground fiberoptic cable. 

While several buildings still do not have gas service, some businesses were able to re-open and are helping with recovery efforts.

Mel's Drive-In was open following the fire, after serving as a meeting point for evacuated residents and a refuge for first responders. The retro-themed diner handed out free coffee for PG&E workers and firefighters during the hours-long effort to turn off the gas and extinguish the fire.

“Today is going to be normal business,” said General Manager Obel Gonzales.

Other businesses on Geary Boulevard, like Cup A Java Coffee House, weren't as lucky. Cafe owner Steve Han told KCBS Radio that, without gas service, they might have to temporarily close altogether.

The building's elevator is also out of commission because of an ongoing power outage. Han said there were people in the elevator when the power went out who had to be rescued by the Fire Department.

Han remained concerned about the digging around natural gas lines in his neighborhood. “Maybe over here it’ll happen, too,” he said. “We don’t know what’s happening.”

Others thought it remarkable that there were no injuries from the incident, which damaged five buildings on a highly trafficked commercial thoroughfare.

“Well, it’s very scary. It’s only two blocks from my house,” Carolyn Kataoka told KCBS Radio. “You hear about these things happening, but when they happen that close to your home, you realize it could happen anywhere to anyone.”

Kataoka she is most saddened by the loss of the Hong Kong Lounge II, a popular Dim Sum restaurant just recently added to the prestigious Michelin Guide.

“For our neighborhood, we are really going to miss it badly,” she said. “The people who work there are lovely”

The owner of the building told the San Francisco Chronicle that they will try to rebuild. 

Written by Brian Krans.