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