SEATTLE – Nine firefighters were injured when an apparent natural gas explosion destroyed several buildings in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood early Wednesday morning.
A gas leak was first reported at 1:04 a.m. The explosion tore through the neighborhood 39 minutes later.
“The windows are blown out for half a block on all sides. So it was a huge explosion. It was extremely loud. It was out of control. It was the craziest thing I’ve ever seen,” said one neighbor.
“It felt like the earthquake in 2001,” said another neighbor. “I looked out the window and my neighborhood exploded.”
The firefighters went to Harborview Medical Center with minor injuries mostly involving cuts and abrasions. All nine were released by 8 a.m. The Seattle Fire Department said there were no reports of anyone missing.
“My thoughts are with the Seattle firefighters injured from last night’s explosion in Greenwood and I wish them a quick recovery,” Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement. “These men and women risked their lives this morning, as they do every day, to keep our community safe. I am grateful for their service and all of our first responders."
It was believed at least three businesses were destroyed and a bike shop was heavily damaged. Several other neighboring buildings had their windows blown out.
“Greenwood is a close knit neighborhood and an incident like this is felt by the entire community," said Murray. "I know neighbors will do everything they can to support these businesses as they begin the long and challenging task to recover and repair from this incident. The City will also be there to do what we can to help those affected with the clean-up and help local business owners as they work to get back on their feet and re-open their doors.”
The force of the blast was recorded on seismometers located 820 feet away.
First responders closed Greenwood Avenue between 83rd and 87th streets, and 84th Street between 1st Avenue NW and Dayton Avenue N.
Puget Sound Energy said it shut down all six control valves that fed gas into the area by 7:30 a.m.
Fire chief Harold Scoggins said this is a good reminder for some safety tips if you have a gas leak in your home or business. Shut off the gas and do not turn on or off light switches because that could ignite the gas.