Where businesses once stood, there is now simply rubble, as a very destructive explosion occurred along North Bend Way early Friday morning, April 25, 2014. Luckily, it happened in the quiet, overnight hours.
Resident Kim Brunaugh said via email that the explosion in the QFC area woke her around 3:45AM. Multiple fire crews arrived on scene quickly and no major injuries were reported.
Nearby North Bend residents said it felt like something hit their homes, shaking and shattering windows, damaging garage doors. Other residents said they woke to the sound of the explosion from Snoqualmie Ridge,miles away.
The explosion happened at the old Pizza Place spot, which was undergoing renovations to become a new restaurant. It also destroyed the neighboring barber shop, Last Cut East, as well as largely leveling an adjacent strip mall that contained two businesses.
Snoqualmie Fire Chief, Mark Correira, said the 76 Gas Station next door Last Cut East was backfilled with off-duty and volunteer firefighters to protect it from also catching fire, which could have caused more severe damage to the area.
East North Bend Way was closed in the area, from Ballarat to Red Oak. North Bend Way, from the scene to QFC, and blocks in all directions, were littered with debris from the force of the massive explosion.
Eastside Fire and Rescue suspect the cause was a natural gas explosion. Puget Sound Energy was also on scene. Natural gas in the area was turned off.
Puget Sound Energy said via Twitter at 11:30AM that crews were working to restore power to affected customers, but that power to the homes and businesses closest to the blast site would occur later when the site is made safe for workers.
As many as 1500 customers were without power after the explosion. That number was down to less than 100 at 1:30PM.
A PSE spokesperson said in an afternoon press conference that they had just received the permission from the fire department to begin work on lines in the blast zone to restore power to remaining customers.
According to a city press release, “A comprehensive investigation to determine the cause of the explosion will be completed by a fire investigator. The immediate area surrounding the explosion is covered with debris and there are detours for vehicle traffic between E North Bend Way from the 500 block to Park Street (including the North Bend Way/Cedar Falls Roundabout). The area will be closed to vehicles and pedestrians.”
A city spokesperson said the complete re-opening time of North Bend Way in the vicinity is unknown, but that no new explosions are expected. The area was safe and under investigation.
The Snoqualmie Valley School District said all schools ran on-time, but buses were dealing with re-routing due to the road closures. District spokeswoman, Carolyn Malcolm, confirmed nearby North Bend Elementary was NOT damaged and had power. It opened on-time.