By coincidence, he departed for a trade mission to Asia the day of the explosion, Sept. 9, but he received continuous updates while traveling. Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado as acting governor was coordinating in Schwarzenegger's absence. Schwarzenegger said he's glad that as a state, California was ready to act and respond quickly to disasters.
Schwarzenegger sent his thoughts to the families of the four deceased and three individuals still missing.
"Every fire expert can tell you that what you do the first few hours is what counts, and I think they responded very quickly those first few hours. My wife's and my prayers go out to those victims and to the families," said Schwarzenegger.
Like Schwarzenegger, residents whose homes were destroyed in the natural-gas line explosion in San Bruno are setting foot for the first time in the neighborhood since they evacuated Thursday.
Each had to wear white protective gear and could only stay a couple of hours.
Local resident Bob Pelligrini was only able to recover a truckload full of his stuff. He marveled at what survived, given the intensity of the inferno.
"Yeah, I was surprised that my brother's CDs were still, some of them, were intact," said Pelligrini. "We were able to find some photos of my mom and my aunt, who are passed away, which was nice."
Not far away, a different kind of gratitude. Flames came ripping through a boarding home for the elderly, and no one was there to help evacuate six mostly immobile women.
That is until Bobby Petrini, his father and a stranger named "Frank" went door to door and found them.
"I ran in and got one lady, and then we kind of just walked down the hallway and saw another and another, and one by one we just grabbed them and brought them out," said Petrini.
Ken Sweeney thinks his fragile mother would have died in the fire had it not been for the heroic efforts of people he doesn't even know.
"We know that these three men saved my mom's life. Smoke inhalation, we didn't know whether the flames were going to get her. But it just kind of shows, I guess, that there are people who care. There are people who are willing to go in and to save strangers, even at their own peril," said Sweeney.
The investigation into the cause of the explosion continues. The National Transportation Safety Board said the agency is looking into the safety valve and why there wasn't an automatic-shutoff valve or one that could be activated remotely.
If you would like to help the residents affected by the San Bruno fire, monetary donations can be sent to:
American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter
85 Second Street, 8th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
You can also call (888) 4-HELP-BAY or visit the American Red Cross Bay Area Chapter's website to donate online, http://www.redcrossbayarea.org.