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A gas explosion produced big damage in San Francisco

A gas explosion in a San Francisco neighborhood Wednesday  burned five buildings including one housing Hong Kong Lounge II, a popular dim sum restaurant frequented by students at the University of San Francisco and tourists.

The blaze started near the intersection of Geary Boulevard and Parker Avenue. Gas flammes sounded like a jet engine. The fire began around 1:20 p.m., apparently by crews working on fiber-optic wires. Residents in the area were panicked. Utility crews put out the fire about three hours after private construction workers cut a natural gas line, igniting the towering flames. PG&E spokesperson Blair Jones said shutting down the gas pipeline was a "very complex situation." It was not immediately known if the valves controlling the flow of gas at the site of the Inner Richmond fire were automatic, remote-controlled or manually operated.

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Officials evacuated several nearby buildings, including a medical clinic and apartment buildings. Vehicles on the street got rerouted. As of Wednesday at 5:20 p.m., approximately 2,500 people in the area were without electricity and about 300 were without gas. San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said no injuries were reported.  PG&E is under heightened scrutiny over its natural gas pipelines after one exploded under a neighborhood south of San Francisco in 2010, killing eight people and wiping out a neighborhood in suburban San Bruno.

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