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Greenwood neighbors jolted awake by explosion, ‘it was just that jarring’

Firefighters move a hose into position as flames burn in the rubble left from an early morning explosion Wednesday, March 9, 2016, in Seattle. The explosion heavily damaged buildings and injured several firefighters.

Listen to the dispatch call made following the explosion.

Update

Investigators determined the explosion that rocked the Greenwood neighborhood was unintentional.

Seattle Fire Department Chief Herold Scoggins said that while all local gas lines have been shut down and are stabilized, crews are still working to determine where the exact gas leak occurred that led to the explosion.

Related: Earthquake monitor detects Greenwood explosion

Nine firefighters initially responded to the report of a gas leak in Greenwood neighborhood at around 1 a.m. Wednesday. They were injured during the explosion that followed and were sent to Harborview Medical Center. Those nine firefighters have since been released and considered “OK” according to Scoggins.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray said that as many as 36 businesses in the immediate Greenwood area have been affected by the incident, noting many have windows that were blown out. Greenwood can expect an increased police presence over the next few days as businesses repair their storefronts.

“This is a significant devastation of a neighborhood business district in Seattle,” Murray said. “This is going to take a lot of work to make these businesses vibrant again.”

“This is about the Greenwood neighborhood, about Greenwood businesses and Greenwood jobs,” Murray said noting that at some point there will be a celebration of the neighborhood after businesses have recovered.

Original story

Chris Stearns and his wife shot out of bed when their house suddenly shook Wednesday morning.

Wondering if there had been an earthquake, they checked their phones to see what caused the disturbance. It seemed too sudden to be an earthquake, Stearns told KIRO Radio’s Jillian Raftery.

The reports started coming in some time later. An explosion powerful enough to be heard miles away had obliterated a building in Greenwood.

“It was just that jarring,” Stearns said.

Unable to sleep, the two went out to the scene to see the damage first hand. What they found was the rubble of three businesses on Greenwood Avenue North.

Related: How you can help Greenwood businesses

It took firefighters hours to extinguish a fire. Nine firefighters were hurt in the natural gas explosion.

A group of firefighters was already at the scene after being called to a gas leak at a restaurant in the 200 block of North 85th Street near Greenwood Avenue North just after 1 a.m., KIRO 7 reports. There was a report of an explosion about 40 minutes later.

Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins says eight firefighters and one battalion chief was injured in the blast. All of them were taken to Harborview Medical Center; all have been released. Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said all of the firefighters were treated for injuries ranging from burns to abrasions.

As many as three businesses were destroyed. Neighbors report they include Neptune Coffee, Mr. Gyros, and the Quick Mart. The Associated Press reports one or two buildings and nearby parked cars were heavily damaged.

The blast could be felt or heard as far away as Shoreline and Lake City Way.

The fire was reportedly extinguished just after 8 a.m.

Traffic detour

Traffic in the area is being rerouted off of Greenwood Ave. N to Holman. Some buses that service Greenwood Elementary school have been placed on alternate routes.

Gas was still leaking at the site around 6:30 a.m., according to Puget Sound Energy.

KIRO Radio’s Jillian Raftery said she could smell the gas.

“I’m pretty sick to my stomach right now,” she told Seattle’s Morning News.

Though gas was still leaking, the danger was relatively low because it was burning off.

The area will be blocked off for most of the day.

Below is the dispatch call Wednesday morning just after the explosion.

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