A natural gas leak caused an explosion and a resulting fire in the Greenwood neighborhood in the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 9. Photo courtesy of Seattle Fire Dept.
A natural gas leak caused an explosion and a resulting fire in the Greenwood neighborhood in the early morning hours of Wednesday, March 9. Photo courtesy of Seattle Fire Dept.

Seattle Fire investigators have determined that the early morning explosion and resulting fire in Greenwood on Wednesday, March 9, were accidental and caused by a natural gas leak on the exterior of the building.

Three businesses in the building in the 200 block of North 85th Street shared common walls and were leveled by the blast: Quick Stop Grocery (8409 Greenwood Ave. N.), Mr. Gyros (8411 Greenwood Ave. N.) and Neptune Coffee (8415 Greenwood Ave. N.). The total damage to the building is estimated at $3 million.

Natural gas levels accumulated in the interior of the building to the extent that they ignited, according to the Seattle Fire Department (SFD). Investigators were not able to pinpoint the source of ignition inside the structure.

Fire companies responded to reports of a natural gas leak at 1:04 a.m. A short time later, flying glass and debris from an explosion and fire injured eight firefighters and a battalion chief. They were transported to Harborview Medical Center with minor injuries for treatment and released. Search dogs were brought in to ensure there were no other patients.

The explosion also blew out windows in businesses and storefronts in the surrounding blocks.

Approximately 70 Seattle firefighters responded to the incident.

Greenwood Avenue North was closed between North 87th and 83rd streets and First and Dayton avenues Northwest for most of the day.

Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC) pipeline safety engineers are continuing their investigation into yesterday’s explosion.

The UTC investigators are still interviewing witnesses and first responders and collecting evidence to determine the probable cause of the explosion and fire.

Several Greenwood organizations and businesses have set up relief funds to help the affected businesses and community members.

The Phinney Neighborhood Association (PNA) is collecting tax-deductible donations online, at the Phinney Neighborhood Center (6532 Phinney Ave. N.), at the Greenwood Senior Center (525 N. 85th St.) or at the IRG Physical Therapy of Greenwood (514 N. 85th St.). Checks should be made out to Phinney Neighborhood Association, with “Greenwood relief” in the memo.

PNA has also set up a webpage (phinneycenter.org/greenwoodrelief) for updated opportunities to help. (To list your opportunity, email anamariak@phinneycenter.org. )

PNA is also selling its popular lighted holiday monkeys, which previously helped the Greenwood Senior Center, to help the Greenwood Relief Fund. Monkeys can be purchased for $300 or more ($200 of which is tax-deductible); only 50 are available.

A GoFundMe account has also been set up to support the employees at the businesses destroyed in the explosion (Neptune Coffee, Mr. Gyros and Quick Stop).