State investigators say Puget Sound Energy is responsible for an explosion last year that destroyed a North Seattle home and injured the couple who lived there.
After a comprehensive investigation into the September 26, 2011 gas leak explosion, investigators with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) said an electrical current surge from a downed Seattle City Light power line punched a hole in the natural gas line, causing the leak that led to the explosion.
"The most likely cause of the explosion was natural gas leaking from Puget Sound Energy’s (PSE) service pipe located outside the Pinehurst home," UTC officials said in the release. The gas leaking from the pipe "likely migrated into the crawlspace, eventually igniting and causing the explosion and fire that destroyed a house and resulted in injuries to two homeowners."
The Sunday before the explosion, PSE gas workers found leaks in three pipes, but failed to find the leak at the exploded house until late Monday, said UTC investigators. The house exploded around 6 a.m. Monday, leveling the home and injuring the two occupants inside.
The explosion also ripped through the house next door. Jean Scott says after the neighboring explosion hit her house, PSE promised to help them, but that never happened. Instead, the Scotts spent a year living in their trailer, rebuilding from the most frightening morning of their lives.
"I was upstairs. My husband was downstairs. I saw the roof go up and come back down," said Scott. "All the windows blew out from the back of the house forward."
Scott is considering hiring a lawyer against PSE.
"There was a lot of damage to our house, over a hundred thousand (dollars) in damage," said Scott.
The state pipeline safety engineers are recommending penalties against PSE for failing to find the leak that tore apart homes.
"UTC pipeline safety engineers are recommending PSE incur penalties for violating gas-safety rules," said UTC officials. "While the company promptly responded to odor reports and conducted a leak survey in the area, it failed to leak survey all the gas lines located in the area, including the service line to the home that exploded and the gas main located in and under the adjoining cul-de-sac."
In a written statement, Puget Sound Energy said: "PSE supports any recommendation made by our state regulators that makes our natural gas system even more safe for our communities."
KING 5's Linda Brill contributed to this report.