Alleged thief sparks explosion at Everett house

EVERETT — A man scrounging for scrap metal in Everett on Wednesday almost blew himself up in the process.

Just before 10:13 a.m., an explosion rocked an abandoned house in the 1200 block of 41st Street, a block west of Rucker Avenue. The house’s front door flew off. It was knocked off its foundation. Glass from shattered windows landed on sidewalks 25 feet away.

Neighbors saw a man, 35, running from the home.

He’s likely lucky to be alive.

Investigators believe the man was in the house’s basement cutting into steel pipes for scrap metal. He cut into pipes carrying natural gas. He heard a hissing sound as the gas escaped.

Soon afterward, he lit a cigarette.

The house exploded.

No serious injuries were reported, Everett Fire Marshal Rick Robinson said. The man somehow was spared from the main shock wave of the explosion.

“He had singed his eyelashes and that was it,” Robinson said.

Everett police detained the man for questioning.

He initially was interviewed and released with orders not to return to the house, Robinson said. However, the man came back later and went back inside the house.

He was arrested and was expected to be booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of trespassing.

At the time of the explosion, the gas was contained to the basement, Robinson said. That indicates the gas hadn’t been leaking for long, he said.

Police and fire rigs surrounded the house for hours. People also rushed to social media to speculate about whether the blast was caused by a methamphetamine operation.

It wasn’t.

The house already had been condemned, Robinson said. City officials are working with the owner on demolition plans “in the very near term.”

The fire from the blast was small, with minimal smoke and flames.

Rikki King: 425-339-3449; rking@heraldnet.com.

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