Three Puget Sound Energy workers were injured Friday morning when a natural-gas line that had been punctured by contractors ignited in North Seattle.
Firefighters responded to reports of a natural-gas leak in the 10300 block of Midvale Avenue North around 10:30 a.m., according to the Seattle Fire Department. Contractors were digging in the area using an excavator, which hit and ruptured a 2-inch line, according to a statement from Seattle Fire. Puget Sound Energy workers were called to respond.
Workers were in the ditch putting a clamp on the gas line when a fire ignited, shooting off high flames. It’s unclear why there was a flash ignition of gas, Puget Sound Energy Andrew Padula said Friday afternoon.
The injured workers were taken to Harborview Medical Center with minor burns.
The gas was allowed to continue burning, as it’s the safest way to mitigate the hazard, the Fire Department said.
The fire finally went out about 12:10 p.m. in the ditch, which is on a residential street next to a strip mall with a movie theater, dentist’s office, grocery store and laundromat.
Residents in the area were evacuated as a precaution. They were allowed to return home around 1 p.m., after firefighters conducted air monitoring.
A group of neighbors and passersby crowded on the sidewalk near the gas leak, watching as firetrucks rushed onto the street.
Alexia Coleman, 13, was visiting her grandparents, who live on Midvale Avenue, when the flames erupted. She heard sirens blaring down the street around 10:25 a.m., and started smelling gas shortly after.
“You could see the fire — it burst up in flames above the [firetrucks],” Coleman said. “I was mostly worried … about whether it would spread or not.”
She said officials were able to contain the blaze quickly, and let her and her family know they’d be able to return to their home within 30 minutes.
Her grandfather, James, said he wasn’t at home at the time, but hurried back when he started getting texts about the gas leak. Several of his neighbors were evacuated from their homes, he said.
“Very scary,” he said. “And neighbors are concerned about their pets and damage to their cars and exterior to their homes and their fences.”
Margaret MacDonald, 33, who also lives on Midvale Avenue, said she was on a conference call when a fireman started banging on her door.
“There were some pretty intense flames,” MacDonald said. “We saw some flames shoot up, and then it was pretty consistently blowing.”
Correction: The contractors who punctured the gas line were not employed by Puget Sound Energy as originally stated, according to the company.