Natural gas leak forces evacuations in Seattle’s Central District

Originally published by The Seattle Times

People in Seattle’s Central District were evacuated from the area around Martin Luther King Jr. Way and East Cherry Street on Wednesday afternoon because of a natural gas leak.

The gas had ignited underground above an electrical vault and melted through asphalt, causing flames on a sidewalk, a video from the Seattle Fire Department showed. The department said another electrical vault across the street had a “smoldering fire” that extinguished on its own before firefighters arrived. The gas also seeped through the asphalt onto the sidewalk and surrounding area.

Power and natural gas were shut off in the area, and about 50 to 75 people were evacuated as a precaution, the fire department said. Evacuations were in place between East Columbia Street and East Jefferson Street and 27th Avenue and 29th Avenue.

At about 12:30 p.m., about 2,200 customers were without power, according to Seattle City Light.

The gas was secured at about 3 p.m., and the area was reopened after air monitoring determined natural gas levels were safe for the public. No injuries were reported, and most residents’ power had been restored by late Wednesday afternoon.

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