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Explosion rocks Seattle neighborhood; homes evacuated

September 26, 2011 | 12:09 pm

A powerful explosion rocked a residential neighborhood in north Seattle early Monday, engulfing one house in flames and prompting the evacuation of two dozen others as firefighters examined the possibility of a gas leak.

Residents as far as three miles away reported hearing and feeling the explosion in the city's Pinehurst neighborhood. A man and woman who lived in the house where the fire occurred were hospitalized with serious injuries.

Windows blew out of nearby houses and neighbors leaped out of their beds in terror. "The flames were huge,"  Desiree Tabares, who lives several houses away, told the Seattle Times.

She said her 11-year-old daughter began screaming. "Particles of the flames were coming into our back yard. The flames were so high we could see the tree burning at the house," she said. Other neighbors said the 6 a.m. blast felt like an earthquake.

Firefighters ordered the evacuation after the fire engulfed not only the first house but approached two others.

A natural gas leak had been reported Sunday afternoon in the same neighborhood, about three blocks from the scene of Monday's explosion and fire. That led to the evacuation of several houses, after which it was determined that a water line had corroded a natural gas line.

It was not immediately known whether the earlier gas leak was related to the explosion, though workers from Puget Sound Energy, the local utility, were closing off a feeder line and conducting inspections. Seattle Fire Department spokesman Kyle Moore said in an interview it is too early to make a determination. He said a bomb squad had also been called to the scene.

"You can't speculate about something like this," he said.


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-- Kim Murphy in Seattle

Photo: Seattle firefighters work to extinguish flames after an explosion that injured two people. Credit: Ted S. Warren / Associated Press