Lucky escape as blast rips through Seattle buildings

Shop owners yesterday inspected walls that were ripped to shreds by an early-morning natural gas explosion in Seattle and marvelled that the blast had caused no serious injuries.
Fire crews were responding to reports of a gas leak when the explosion occurred yesterday along a main thoroughfare in a neighbourhood north of downtown.
“The most important thing is that no one died and this happened at two in the morning and not two in the afternoon,” said Chris Maykut, owner of Chaco Canyon Organic Cafe. “If it had happened at two in the afternoon, things would be really bad right now.”
The blast sent nine firefighters to hospital. All were treated and released. There were no reports of other injuries or missing people. Still, dogs searched the rubble.
The cause of the explosion that damaged 36 businesses is under investigation. Video surveillance from a nearby restaurant showed a bright flash at 1.43am local time and then the room shook as debris fell from the ceiling.
A large garage door covering the restaurant’s front windows protected it from extensive damage.
The initial emergency calls revealed the initial chaos. “Mayday, mayday, mayday,” a fire dispatcher screamed immediately after the explosion, calling for a full response. “I have firefighters missing.”
Eight firefighters and a battalion chief were later treated at Harborview Medical Centre. Several were hurt by falling debris.
“We didn’t have anybody with burns, nothing life-threatening, nothing major,” hospital spokeswoman Susan Gregg said.
Residents and shop owners in the Greenwood neighbourhood spent the morning surveying damage and cleaning up rubble and glass that littered the streets.
“I know neighbours will do everything they can to support these businesses as they begin the long and challenging task to recover and repair from this incident,” Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said.
Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman Akiko Oda said it would take time to determine what caused the explosion, and the utility would be working with the Seattle Fire Department in the investigation.

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