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Breaking news: Downtown Greenwood rocked by explosion, firefighters injured

This post is being updated continuously. Please keep reading down for updated information.

Breaking news: An explosion near 85th and Greenwood has destroyed buildings, sent debris flying and injured at least nine firefighters, according to KING 5. KING has some amazing aerial footage of the scene.

Seattle Fire Department tweeted a number of photos from the scene, showing windows blown out of neighboring businesses, and debris all over the streets.

The Seattle Times reports that firefighters were already on scene investigating a possible natural gas leak when the explosion occurred.

Dozens of firefighting personnel were on scene through the morning. Firefighters were initially on scene about 1:04 a.m. for reports of a gas leak. When the explosion happened about 1:40 a.m., nine firefighters were hurt by flying debris and glass.

Phinneywood reader Lauri emailed me info after hearing it on the scanner:

I was listening when I heard a female responder say “MAYDAY MAYDAY MAYDAY!!!” I have never heard that. When a commander arrived and assumed command she sounded really rattled. (Editor’s note: The Seattle Times has audio of that chilling mayday call.)

Update 6:30 a.m.: Neptune Coffee, Mr. Gyros and the Greenwood Quick Stop on Greenwood Avenue between North 84th and 85th streets are completely destroyed.

The buildings housing Greenwood Quick Stop, Mr. Gyros and Neptune coffee are completely destroyed.

The buildings housing Greenwood Quick Stop, Mr. Gyros and Neptune coffee are completely destroyed.

Update 6:50 a.m.: Davey Oil, who co-owns G & O Family Cyclery right next door to the destroyed building, said his alarm company called to tell him that all of his alarms were going off. He lives nearby and ran over to see the neighboring buildings destroyed.

“Neptune, Mr. Gyros and the Quick Stop are gone; it’s just annihilated,” Oil said. “It’s just so horrible. All those nice people who work there. Thank…god it wasn’t at Gordito’s where all those people live upstairs.”

Windows at many neighboring businesses were blown out, including Chaco Canyon, Seattle ReCreative and Angry Beaver across the street, and Chocolati Café, Emerald City Karate and Couth Buzzard Books half a block south, plus Coyle’s Bakeshop over a block away. The owner of the Hummus Café across the street on the corner of 85th and Greenwood said her windows are blown out. Eric Donnelly, owner of the Flint Creek restaurant that is still under construction on the southwest corner of 85th and Greenwood, said some of his windows are probably broken but he can’t get close enough to the scene yet to know for sure.

Windows at Chocolati Cafe were blown out, half a block from the explosion site.

Windows at Chocolati Cafe were blown out, half a block from the explosion site.

Corey Orvold, Seattle Fire Department Public Information Officer, said firefighters were still fighting hot spots that keep flaring up. She said eight firefighters and one battalion chief were taken to Harborview Medical Center with minor injuries. They were on scene checking out reports of a natural gas leak when the explosion occurred at 1:40 a.m.

The wreckage was still smoldering hours later.

The wreckage was still smoldering hours later.

Ray Calvert, who works at Atlas Coffee Importers just around the corner on 85th and lives about four blocks away, said he heard the explosion. “We have maybe one or two windows broken,” he said. “I’m here to clean up my parking lot.”

Greenwood Avenue and 85th Street are both closed for a couple of blocks in either direction.

85th closed off-resized

Neighbors and business owners have been gathering throughout the morning to view the scene, exchange hugs and say, over and over again, how thankful they are that no one was more seriously injured.

Puget Sound Energy crews are going house by house in the area, checking for residual natural gas in the air.


Metro bus routes 5 and 48 are currently rerouted due to the street closures.

For Route 48:

Heading toward Mt Baker Transit Center use the stops Eastbound on NW 85th St just east of 8th Av NW or N 85th St just west of Aurora Av N.

Heading toward Loyal Heights use the stops Westbound on N 85th St just east of Aurora Av N or Westbound on NW 85th St just west of 8th Av NW.

For Route 5:

Heading towards downtown Seattle use the stops on Greenwood Av N north of N 90th St or south of N 80th St.

Heading towards Shoreline Community College use the stops on Greenwood Av N south of N 80th St and north of Holman Rd N.

Update 8:08 a.m.: Seattle Fire has posted a recap on its Fire Line Blog, saying “Seattle Fire Investigators are working with the Seattle Police Arson Bomb Unit and Puget Sound Energy to determine the cause of the explosion and two alarm fire.”

Update 8:52 a.m.: Mayor Ed Murray just emailed this statement to media:

“My thoughts are with the Seattle firefighters injured from last night’s explosion in Greenwood and I wish them a quick recovery. These men and women risked their lives this morning, as they do every day, to keep our community safe. I am grateful for their service and all of our first responders.

“As the investigation and clean-up continues today, I ask that commuters along the corridor be patient. Please follow updates from the Seattle Department of Transportation and King County Metro on detours and alternate transit routes to keep people moving through the neighborhood and away from the scene during the investigation.

“Greenwood is a close knit neighborhood and an incident like this is felt by the entire community. I know neighbors will do everything they can to support these businesses as they begin the long and challenging task to recover and repair from this incident. The City will also be there to do what we can to help those affected with the clean-up and help local business owners as they work to get back on their feet and re-open their doors.”

Update 9:07 a.m.: The students at nearby Greenwood Elementary formed themselves into the shape of a heart on the playground this morning, in support of their neighborhood and the firefighters. Thanks to Sandy for the photo.


Numerous people have asked how they can help and several people have told me they are working on setting up some kind of fund or fundraiser. We will update when we have more information on that.

Update 11 a.m.: Emerald City Karate, half a block from the explosion site, is now the staging area for first responders and other crews.

Photo courtesy of Emerald City Karate.

Photo courtesy of Emerald City Karate.