Tape recorded emergency calls from the first moments after last week's massive gas leak explosion in San Bruno, Calif., were posted today as residents returned to see what damage the blast had wrought on their homes and lives.
Some of the first reports came from commercial pilots flying over San Francisco International Airport nearby.
"There is one big fire that just started," one pilot says.
"Yeah, I know. We were just looking at that. That is huge," says another.
For nearly an hour, crews on the scene operated under the assumption that a commercial airliner had crashed into a neighborhood. "There's a plane down," says one dispatcher. "We're getting multiple responses started."
"Call for a fourth alarm. ... Appears we have a plane down in the neighborhood, multiple structures on fire and we have a fireball still coming out," says another.
Because of a broken water main, firefighters had to wait 10 minutes as hoses were attached to working hydrants where supplemental water was being trucked in.
An hour after the explosion, crews realized there was no plane crash. "It appears this is some sort of natural gas explosion," a firefighter says.
A new home video has surfaced showing the horror residents saw.
In the video, one homeowner close to the explosion struggles to control the camera --and his emotions -- as orange and yellow flames fill the sky, and keeps even less control over his visceral reaction to the blast.
"What the f*** happened," homeowner Walter McCaffrey can be heard screaming. McCaffrey later said he shot the video from the deck outside his kitchen.
"To be honest, I was not thinking," McCaffrey told "Good Morning America." "I was just making sure my neighbors were -- I could see my neighbors running up the hill. And I was just running around the house, making sure everybody was out."
The explosion on Sept. 9 instantly leveled a neighborhood and killed at least four people. More than 50 others were injured.
Temperatures from the fire were so extreme that as the first fire truck got to the scene, its windshield cracked and firemen saw paint bubbling up on cars, one fire official said.
"It was like, picture a hot air balloon of fire. That big and high," witness Larry Fioranelli said Thursday. "The heat shot up the street and into the garage... It's like a movie when you see the A-bomb explosion... You felt the concussion."
Homeowners of more than 80 damaged homes were given police-escorted tours of their houses Monday, but were not allowed inside.
"Everyone's just looking for the little bit that they can identify, you know, out of really nothing," one resident said.
A ruptured natural gas pipe is believed to be the source of the explosion and has been shipped to a lab in Washington for testing to see why it burst.
"That's one of the things the metallurgy examination will help ascertain, because we'll be able to determine was the failure in the pipeline due to fatigue or was it because of an impact in the case of construction," Christopher Hart of the NTSB said Sunday.
At a packed community meeting overnight, frustrated residents looked for answers.