Video: PG&E investigating cause of underground transformer explosion


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — PG&E said it is still investigating what caused an underground transformer to explode Saturday morning. The blast sent two men to the hospital.

Power was also knocked out to parts of San Francisco’s Bernal Heights neighborhood.

While the power is back on, questions remain about safety. The two victims were walking away from San Francisco General Hospital.

Manuel Cruz was just released Monday afternoon. Robert Antonelli had been checked in to the ER on Saturday and was released that day.

Neither men are talking about the incident on camera on advice of counsel, although Cruz said he is feeling OK.

Back in their neighborhood, a metal plate is now covering the blast site, which is right outside Antonelli’s window,

He had been leaning out of the window talking to Cruz, who was standing on the sidewalk when the underground transformer exploded.

Paul Woodhouse lives up the street. He said he heard a loud boom and felt his house shake.

“I thought someone had an accident and hit my house,” Woodhouse said.

He said about a year ago, there was a similar incident with an underground transformer in front of his neighbor’s house.

“I heard cracking and smelled smoke,” Woodhouse said. “Looked out my window and there were flames shooting up three feet high.”

No one was hurt in that incident, but the power was knocked out for about a day.

“It’s very scary to think someone could have been walking there, but what I wonder, why haven’t they checked all the other ones in the neighborhood?” Woodhouse said. “They are all about the same age. They are going to deteriorate around the same time. Why haven’t they been updated?”

PG&E said it is too early to say if the age of the machinery played a part in Saturday’s explosion. But a third-party firm will be brought in to do an independent investigation.

It said transformers are routinely inspected. A patrol recently checked out the equipment in the neighborhood in June, and no issues were found.

They said the incident up the street happened in 2013, and a different kind of transformer was involved. It failed while a PG&E worker was making repairs. They said the safety of the public and customers is always their top priority.

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