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PG&E Admits Responsibility For Deadly San Bruno Blast

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A law enforcement official runs towards a massive fire in a residential neighborhood September 9, 2010 in San Bruno. (Getty Images)

A law enforcement official runs towards a massive fire in a residential neighborhood September 9, 2010 in San Bruno. (Getty Images)

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SAN BRUNO (CBS 5) – The head of Pacific Gas and Electric Company acknowledged Tuesday that the utility company is responsible for a deadly natural gas pipeline explosion that leveled a San Bruno neighborhood just over a year ago.

The admission of liability by PG&E president Chris Johns came in response to questions from a San Mateo County Superior Court judge in advance of a Friday court hearing involving lawsuits stemming from the Sept. 2010 blast.

Johns said the company would financially compensate all blast victims in the hopes of ending the litigation.

“PG&E is hopeful that today’s announcement will allow the families affected by this terrible tragedy to receive compensation sooner, without unnecessary legal proceedings,” said Johns.

A statement from the company said the legal settlement in the case “also makes clear that none of the plaintiffs, San Bruno residents or the city itself is at fault” for the incident 14 months ago.

In a July court filing by the utility, it appeared PG&E had left open the possibility of shifting blame for the explosion after the utility came under fire by regulators for poor upkeep and shoddy record keeping involving its gas pipelines.

But Johns maintained Tuesday that the legal settlement was not the result of public pressure or media scrutiny.

“I want to emphasize that this announcement was made not in reaction to any external pressure,” Johns said. “The judge presiding over these cases asked PG&E to provide our official position… PG&E is hopeful that this will allow the people injured to receive compensation sooner without unnecessary legal proceedings.”

(Copyright 2011 CBS San Francisco. All rights reserved.)

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