Firefighters pour water on flames burn in the rubble of an early morning explosion Wednesday in Seattle.

Firefighters pour water on flames burn in the rubble of an early morning explosion Wednesday in Seattle.

Know the warning signs of a gas leak before things explode

EVERETT — The explosion that damaged 36 businesses and injured nine firefighters in north Seattle last week had something in common with a 2013 blast at an Everett home.

Both occurred after natural gas leaks.

Pipeline safety engineers from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission and Seattle firefighters continue to investigate Wednesday’s explosion in the Greenwood section of Seattle. Three businesses were destroyed and the blast broke windows blocks away.

In April 2013, a man scrounging for scrap metal inside an abandoned house in the 1200 block of 41st Street lit a cigarette after cutting into pipes carrying natural gas. He heard a hissing sound.

The house exploded, the foundation cracked and windows shattered, but the man managed to escape only with singed eyelashes.

“It was nothing of the magnitude of what happened in Seattle,” said Eric Hicks, Everett Fire Department fire marshal.

There usually are warning signs with natural gas leaks, Hicks said.

Often there is a sulfur, rotten-egg smell and hissing sounds.

In such circumstances, Hicks said people should leave the area and call 911.

It’s also important not to light a match or smoke a cigarette because that can spark an explosion.

Snohomish County Fire District 1 often gets calls about natural gas leaks, agency spokeswoman Leslie Hynes said.

“I don’t know if it’s every single day, but we get quite a few inside and outside of buildings,” Hynes said.

Larger leaks often are related to construction projects when pipes get ruptured.

Smaller leaks frequently occur inside homes.

For those, “it’s better to get a technician in there, someone who knows what they are doing,” she said.

Natural gas is prevalent in many parts of the state.

The Utilities and Transportation Commission’s pipeline safety program regulates safety practices of 31 pipeline operators and does inspections on more than 41,000 miles of gas and hazardous-liquid pipelines across the state.

Even a small amount of volatile gas can explode with deadly results. Barista Courtney Campbell died in January after an apparently faulty propane heater caused an explosion at the Sinners and Saints Coffee Co. along Everett Mall Way.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446;

Talk to us

More in Local News

Harry Lee Jones Jr.
Man gets 31½ years for shooting Everett motel guest 12 times

Harry Lee Jones Jr., 27, beat and then shot a Farwest Motel guest in 2018 while two accomplices looted his room.

Pallet communities are groups of tiny homes for unhoused people. Here, a worker installs weatherstripping on a pallet shelter at Pallet in Everett in January 2020. (Kevin Clark / Herald file)
Tiny home community is proposed at a Marysville church

The Pallet shelter community would provide transitional housing to eight people. Neighbors have questions.

With credit scores out, will insurers cut or hike your rate?

Lack of affordable housing squeezed buyers and drove up home prices across Snohomish County.

Photo courtesy Laura Thompson 

Madison Thompson and her dog Stella.
Whidbey teen, golden retriever make top 8 in NY kennel show

Madison Thompson was one of the youngest competitors in her division of 80 kids.

Chris Stack and Samantha Soule film a scene of their movie, "Midday Black, Midnight Blue," on the Coupeville wharf June 14. (Photo by Karina Andrew/Whidbey News-Times)
Indie film crew: Whidbey residents are ‘generous and welcoming’

The movie makers are shooting scenes for a full-length feature at various sites around the island.

Everett's Patrick Hall was among people who put up signs in March to save the Longfellow School building.  He is now part of an advisory task force looking at options for the building, which the Everett School District had planned to tear down.  (Dan Bates / The Herald)
National register listing could be next for old Longfellow

But the designation wouldn’t stop the Everett School District from tearing down the former school.

Abigail Cruz was awarded the American Association of University Women Edmonds Sno-King branch's $2,000 scholarship for Edmonds College. (AAUW Edmonds Sno-King)
Edmonds College student wins $2,000 AAUW scholarship

AAUW scholarship for Edmonds College student The Edmonds SnoKing Branch of the… Continue reading

Junelle Lewis becomes emotional while performing a dance with her children during the Justice to Jubilee Juneteenth Celebration at Skykomish River Park on Saturday, June 19, 2021 in Monroe, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Justice to Jubilee: ‘No one is free till everyone is free’

People gathered Saturday in a Monroe park to celebrate Juneteenth, a new federal holiday that commemorates the end of slavery.

Galina Volchkova, the Volunteers of America Housing Director, discusses the volume of applications for rental assistance her office received Friday. (Katie Hayes / The Herald) 20210618
7,000 tenants, waiting for help, fear eviction after June 30

Rental assistance money won’t reach many landlords before the coronavirus eviction moratorium expires.

Most Read