Explosion destroys businesses near Seattle

NORTH BEND, Wash. (KING) -- An explosion and fire has destroyed or damaged several businesses in North Bend Friday morning, sending debris flying as far as four blocks away.

Eastside Fire and Rescue spokesman Wes Collins says there have been two minor injuries. Firefighters are searching damaged buildings but they don't expect anyone was inside at the time.

The cause is suspected to be natural gas. Firefighters say there is some discrepancy as to where the explosion originated.

A dispatcher says there were multiple calls and automated alarms at 3:41 a.m. Friday. The fire went to two alarms because of the large response.

The fire has reportedly burned a barber shop and blast damage is visible at a gas station, tire store and grocery. Debris is scattered over a wide area.

Katie Iverson was in the middle of her overnight shift at the 76 gas station in when the building next door exploded.

"Things started falling all around me. I ran to get under a doorway, because it felt like an earthquake," said Iverson.

When she went outside, she saw the debris and the barbershop next door was on fire.

"I ran to the switch and turned off the pumps so the fuel supply was cut off," said Iverson.

Iverson escaped without a scratch.

"Now that I'm getting a better look at the destruction and how close I was, it's amazing I'm OK," said Iverson.

North Bend residents report being awakened by a blast that shook their homes.

Red Oaks Senior Assisted Living Center is about a block from the center of the explosion. Residents were close enough to hear and feel blast.

Lois Nichols, 88, was in bed when she heard a loud "boom."

"When I woke up, the bedroom window had broken. Pieces of glass were on my bed. My pictures had fallen off the wall," said Nichols.

Nichols got dressed and, using her walker, managed to get out in the hall where residents gathered.

The home lost electricity. Staff used lanterns and flashlights to guide them to the dining room.

North Bend firefighters checked on them. There were some minor cuts from flying glass, but everyone was OK.

Several windows on the building will have to be replaced.

Puget Sound Energy initially reported 1,500 customers without power after the explosion.

Schools in North Bend will be open and on time, but buses will be re-routed. Information will be updated at the Snoqualmie Valley School District website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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