Pinehurst gas leaks may be connected to house explosion

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by OWEN LEI / KING 5 News, CHRIS DANIELS / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @ChrisDaniels5

KING5.com

Posted on September 26, 2011 at 8:42 PM

Updated Tuesday, Sep 27 at 1:22 PM

SEATTLE -- Hours after investigators said there was no connection, it now appears gas leaks reported in the Pinehurst neighborhood on Sunday may be linked to a house explosion that seriously injured two people on Monday.

"We have found a small hole," said Puget Sound Energy CEO Kimberly Harris, "[a] leak that is consistent with the leaks we found in the area yesterday."

Inspectors spent the afternoon and evening going door-to-door, looking at connections and the condition of underground pipes.

At a press conference at 8:00 p.m., Harris said the gas leak that caused Monday's house explosion was visually similar to three separate leaks reported to PSE on Sunday.  Harris said because of that revelation, they are searching the area for more holes in the pipeline.

"For safety measures, we are going to assume that we need to find any and all leaks that are out there," Harris said. "We don't have any information that there are leaks, and in fact we have been surveying all day and we have not found any more leaks."

The two people inside the home during the explosion, Seattle City Light employee David Ingham and his wife Hong Ingham, remain hospitalized at Harborview Medical Center. Investigators said the fire was ignited by the flip of an electrical switch.

PSE crews said they are working with Seattle City Light into whether a tree that fell on a power line Sunday may have energized underground natural gas pipelines.

“Gas was coming out of the hydrant,” said Sharon Key, who lives about five blocks from the blast site, and spent Sunday indoors, at the request of PSE crews. “They blocked it off, and started digging. I was feeling out of sorts and so was my mom.”

The house was nearly leveled in the explosion, located at 123rd Street and NE 5th Avenue. The blast was so powerful, it shattered windows around the block.

According to PSE, the other three leaks reported Sunday were on the12000 block of 8th Avenue NE at 1:37 p.m., the 900 block of NE 122nd Street at 1:54pm, and the 1000 block of NE 127th St. at 7:57 p.m.

Puget Sound Energy says a main, which runs down 5th Avenue NE, passed it’s last inspection in 2008. 

State Pipeline inspectors also spent Monday reviewing the system grid, and any feeder lines to nearby homes.

 

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