Seattle explosion injures firefighters, levels buildings

Reuters News
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Posted: Mar 09, 2016 8:06 AM

SEATTLE (Reuters) - Several firefighters were slightly hurt when a blast leveled several businesses as they checked on a natural gas leak in north Seattle early Wednesday, officials said.

Eight firefighters and one battalion chief injured by flying glass and debris were taken to a local hospital with minor injuries, according to a Seattle Fire Department statement.

Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg later said the eight men and one woman had been released. Some had minor cuts and abrasions while others were not injured. None suffered burns.

The explosion, which blew out business and store windows in the city's Greenwood neighborhood, occurred as fire officials were trying to locate the source of the leak, which had been reported about 40 minutes earlier.

"These men and women risked their lives this morning," Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said in a statement. "Greenwood is a close-knit neighborhood and an incident like this is felt by the entire community."

Fire investigators were working to determine the cause of the blast and gas workers were checking to see if gas was involved, officials said. Officials later said that the fire had been extinguished and the gas leak had been stopped.

Gas valves were shut down on the block where the explosion occurred, Puget Sound Energy representative Andy Wappler told a news conference, and crews deployed to check the neighborhood is safe.

(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales in Chicago and Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Editing by Bill Rigby and James Dalgleish)