TODAY   |  September 10, 2010

Resident: ‘Heart wrenching’ to watch house burn

San Bruno, Calif., resident Bob Pelligrini tells TODAY’s Matt Lauer that he saw a big orange plume, accompanied by a “thunderous” roar, before watching his windows crack from the intense heat as he fled from his burning home.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> pellegrini was sitting at home watching a football game when his house was rocked by that explosion. mr. pellegrini, good morning to you.

>> good morning, matt.

>> i was reading the account this morning of what happened to you, and it's mind boggling, so let me just start by saying i'm so happy you're all right.

>> thank you.

>> your home was one house away from where this explosion occurred. tell me what you saw and felt.

>> well, we were in the middle of watching the game, you know, in the first quarter, and all of a sudden, the house started vibrating, not shaking like an earthquake, but like vibrating. and we couldn't understand why. and then all of a sudden, we seen this big, orange plume go up, and it had a thunderous sound to it when it was going off. and i looked outside, and i went, "holy mackerel!" and the glass -- i felt the door and it wasn't hot, but the glass on the door was extremely hot. and i said, i don't think we can stay here, because you could see bits of the asphalt all over the front of the house . and what we did was we actually put my shoes on and i started to see the windows crack from the intense heat, not from the fire itself, but from the heat. and what i did was we ran out the back of the house , went around the gate, and the fence was already on fire, and we dragged my dog, gus, a bulldog, out and went up and around the corner. and then i thought we left my brother in the house because he still was in there. he was looking for us. once he discovered we were gone, i guess he went the other way, and i thought i had lost him, but fortunately, i seen him pop up on the back of the street on the other side. we came up two opposite streets, so --

>> tell me -- luckily -- let's make the point, everybody in your home got out safely, and that's very good news. tell me about this house , though. this was your parents' house . i know that you grew up there.

>> yeah.

>> you moved back in after your mom passed away .

>> yeah.

>> had just remodeled it.

>> right, yeah.

>> what was it like to see it in flames?

>> yeah, and i took care of my dad. heart-wrenching. it really was hard to watch, you know? but the main thing is that my intermediate family got out, and the other things can be rebuilt and other things can be, you know, replaced, but you can't replace family members.

>> where are you going to go from here, bob? where are you going to stay?

>> well -- oh, i've got wonderful friends, wonderful friends that have offered homes for me to stay in, cars to drive. a friend of mine offered me a house to stay in and gave me a truck if i need it. we're staying with some wonderful friends of dave and jeanette siva, who are like family to us, and they're allowing us to stay at their house right now, which is where my wife and my son and my dog are right now.

>> well --

>> and we're blessed.

>> well, you're lucky to be alive, and our thoughts and prayers are with you and everybody else from your neighborhood.

>> i appreciate it, matt.

>> all right. bob pellegrini , thanks