Seattle-area blast levels home, shatters school windows; two missing

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 23, 2016 1:57 PM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - An explosion so strong some people thought it was an earthquake leveled a mobile home in western Washington state on Tuesday, possibly trapping two residents and shattering windows at a nearby elementary school, authorities said.

"The force of this explosion basically turned everything into popsicle sticks," said Kitsap County Sheriff's Office spokesman Scott Wilson, referring to the leveled triple-wide mobile home. "There is not much left, it's just debris."

Local media said some area residents thought they were witnessing an earthquake.

Authorities led by a cadaver dog were searching for two residents who may have been trapped inside the home, which also caught fire after the explosion, Wilson said. No bodies have been found.

Emergency officials were working to determine the cause of the early-morning blast, which rocked the area of Port Orchard, some 20 miles west of Seattle, Wilson said.

The force of the explosion shattered windows at Mullenix Ridge Elementary, which borders the residential property, Wilson said. School officials were repairing the damage, though classes were expected to carry on normally.

Agents from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting in the investigation, said Kent Plemons, an official in the agency's Seattle office.

"The danger is over," Wilson said. "Now it's the cleanup and determining whether anybody is in the house."

(Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by James Dalgleish)