SAN BRUNO, CA — Teddy Bernardo points out the exact location where a natural gas pipeline owned by PG&E exploded into flames seven years ago.
Bernardo’s home, which was located less than 70 feet away from the pipeline, was completely destroyed.
Bernardo says he empathizes with the victims of the northern California wildfires.
“My heart really goes out to all the affected families and the people who lost their house and their loved ones, and we went through that,” said Bernardo. “When you see those houses it’s like a war zone. Everything is gone… it brings back memories.”
PG&E claimed responsibility for the 2010 San Bruno fire and with other insurances companies paid families like Bernardo to replace belongings and rebuild their homes.
Now, as PG&E continues to work to restore power to the wildfire scorched areas, the safety division of the state Public Utilities Commission, or PUC, has launched a preliminary review to see if PG&E may be responsible for starting the disaster.
According to an article in the Mercury News, PUC spokesman Christopher Chow said the PUC and Cal Fires are examining PG&E’s response to the fires and will collect information about maintenance history and vegetation management in the fire areas.
For Bernardo, he says complacency may be the reason PG&E could be at fault.
“They know people will still be buying electric or gas from them but if there is competition they might even beef up their services or be more proactive, and things like this wouldn’t happen considering they are at fault, and we don’t know that yet.”
As the probe into the cause of the fires continues, Bernardo offers some advice.
For volunteers, he says it is better to give people gift certificate to department stores or restaurant rather than donating food or clothes.
And for the victims of the fire, Bernardo suggests being vocal and specific about their needs because he says focused goals bring faster solutions.