In aftermath of Greenwood blast: Proceed with caution when it comes to natural gas

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Edmonds resident and photographer Janine Harles works at the Greenwood Fred Meyer on 85th, about a block and a half away from blast site, and took these photos Wednesday morning. The blast shattered windows at all the businesses for block in every direction, she said. "Definitely looks like a bomb went off, so to speak."
Edmonds resident and photographer Janine Harles works at the Greenwood Fred Meyer on 85th, about a block and a half away from blast site, and took these photos Wednesday morning. The blast shattered windows at all the businesses for block in every direction, she said. “Definitely looks like a bomb went off, so to speak.”

12814782_10205988678052342_4421133192812889810_nThe explosion that leveled buildings in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood early Wednesday morning was heard and felt as far away as South Snohomish County, and it underscores the need to proceed with caution whenever you suspect a natural gas leak, according to Snohomish County Fire District 1.

Edmonds resident David Kaufer said he was startled awake by the 1:40 a.m. blast, although at the time he didn’t realize what it was. “I do remember hearing a boom and thought it was a garbage truck or something,” he said.

Kaufer lives in the Westgate neighborhood at the top of a hill, with a south-facing bedroom window, and believes that is why the noise carried so far. According to Google Maps, the blast site is approximately seven miles south of Edmonds’ Westgate area.

Fire District 1 spokesperson Leslie Hynes offered the following safety tips:

If you suspect a natural gas leak:
· Immediately leave the area. If you are indoors, evacuate the building.
· Call 911.
· Do not light a match, cigarette or do anything that might create a spark, including flipping a light switch or operating machinery.

Signs of a gas leak:
· An odor of sulfur or rotten eggs.
· Hissing or roaring sound.
· Damaged connection to a natural gas appliance.
· Dirt or debris blowing from a whole in the ground.
· Unexplained flame from a gas appliance.

Firefighters are dispatched almost daily to investigate suspected natural gas leaks, Hynes said. “Most are small leaks that can be safely and quickly repaired by technicians from the gas company. The larger leaks we see are most frequently occur when a gas line is ruptured by heavy equipment at a construction site. In these cases, firefighters evacuate the surrounding area and stand by with hose lines while gas company technicians cap the leak or turn off the supply to the ruptured line.”

One more piece of advice from firefighters: If you suspect your gas appliance isn’t functioning properly, don’t use it and contact a licensed repair technician.

Fire District 1 is the largest provider of fire and emergency medical services in Snohomish County, with full-time staffing at 12 fire stations. The department serves nearly 200,000 residents in unincorporated south Snohomish County, Brier, Edmonds and Mountlake Terrace.

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