Victims of deadly San Bruno blast await slow-to-come fire fund 

Victims of the deadly San Bruno natural-gas blast could start receiving checks from a roughly $400,000 city-controlled donation fund this week if the City Council takes action at a meeting tonight.

More than four months after the Sept. 9 pipeline explosion and subsequent fire that killed eight people and seriously damaged or destroyed 55 homes, some residents are frustrated that the donations that flooded in have not been handed out.

Councilor Michael Salazar said he and Councilor Irene O’Connell, who were appointed to a subcommittee in charge of the donations, will unveil a tentative plan tonight that would need to be approved by a majority of the City Council, though he declined to give details.

“I’m hoping some of the people who are more seriously concerned are going to attend and they’ll have another opportunity to voice their concerns,” Salazar said.

At a meeting last week, most residents seemed to agree that the money should be given to victims promptly, Salazar said. But the council will need to decide details, such as who is eligible to receive funds and whether varying amounts should be given out to different families.

“At the very high level there was some consensus, but again the devil’s in the details and everybody had a different idea of how that formula should look,” Salazar said.

Salazar said he understands the criticism that the city has been slow to act, but officials believed other entities such as the Red Cross and PG&E — the owners of the pipeline that exploded — would meet short-term needs.

But residents have said there are costs they are facing now that the donations could help pay for.

“I think the money should just be handed over to the victims because I think that’s what it was intended for,” said Bill Magoolaghan, whose Claremont Drive home was gutted. “And I think they can do whatever the heck they want with it.”

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