RANCHO CORDOVA (CBS13) — It was an explosive Christmas tragedy that rocked an entire Rancho Cordova community. Ten years ago, a natural gas explosion killed a man in his home and injured several others, leaving PG&E to blame.
Neighbors say no matter how many years pass, the heartbreak never goes away.
“I couldn’t believe it had been 10 years since it happened,” said Vicky McDonald.
The scars may not be visible any longer inside the Rancho Cordova neighborhood, but the reality of the devastation that once stood remains.
“It was just pure sadness. Just absolutely pure sadness,” said McDonald.
It happened the afternoon of Christmas Eve in 2008. A natural gas explosion occurred while PG&E crews were on the scene of a home on Paiute way.
Residents had previously complained of the smell of gas in the area. The massive burst destroyed a home, killed a 72-year-old man inside and left five others injured.
“You don’t believe things like that are going to happen in your neighborhood,” McDonald said.
McDonald has lived in the neighborhood since 1978 and says in that moment, the happiest time of year turned tragic. For her, Christmas has never been the same.
“Not all the joy and happiness that we had. It just like it took it all away,” she said.
Homes within blocks were rattled and the two houses on either side of the explosion were severely damaged. People were so shaken, they moved away. Thomas Miranda and his family moved into one of the damaged homes about a year after the explosion.
“I was actually kind of worried at first because I was like, maybe it could happen again,” Miranda said.
Neighbors say PG&E has since replaced many underground pipes in the area in hopes of preventing further tragedy.
“I’d say it’s gone back to a good place again. It seems pretty peaceful, honestly,” said Miranda.
While homes have been fixed and rebuilt, the deadly explosion is all but forgotten.
“I just wish it had never happened,” said Miranda.
PG&E was fined $38-million by the California Public Utilities Commission for negligence in the explosion. At the time, it was the highest safety-related fine ever issued by the CPUC.