VIDEO: It was 5:04 p.m. on October 17, 1989, when a powerful magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook the soft soil of San Francisco's Marina District, crumpling the neighborhood's old wooden buildings like paper, and sending a cascade of splintered wood and glass into the streets.
Neighbors who were there at the time recall that something else went flying into the air in those moments: natural gas. The shaking had twisted and snapped underground gas lines, and as the smell of sulfur began to blanket the neighborhood, fire broke out at the corner of Beach and Divisadero streets and rapidly began to spread.
The fire department responded, but soon discovered another problem: The earthquake hadn't just broken gas lines. It had also broken the water pipes feeding the neighborhood's fire hydrants.