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9 firefighters injured in explosion in Seattle neighborhood

A massive explosion ripped through a Seattle neighborhood early Wednesday — obliterating at least one building, damaging several others and sending nine firefighters who’d been investigating a gas leak to a hospital in the Washington state city.

The one battalion chief and eight firefighters transported to Harborview Medical Center suffered minor injuries, said Seattle fire spokeswoman Corey Orvold. In a statement, Harborview Medical indicated that all nine were in satisfactory condition with injuries ranging from burns to cuts to abrasions.

While they recovered, their colleagues remained in a commercial part of the city’s Greenwood neighborhood to address lingering flames and other issues. The Seattle Fire Department tweeted around 3:30 a.m local time that 67 personnel — including firefighters, commanders and medics — were on site.

About 2½ hours earlier, an initial group of firefighters was dispatched to Greenwood to check on a reported natural gas leak, Orvold told reporters Wednesday morning. The explosion went off 39 minutes into that call — destroying a building that included a restaurant and shattering windows as far as two blocks away.

Its destructive force was evident in images tweeted by the fire department showing debris stuck in trees and littering the street, as well as the shattered windows of nearby storefronts and restaurants.

Public buses shuttled people from multiple buildings, at least one of which included apartments, which were evacuated in the aftermath of the explosion, Orvold said. In the meantime, investigators converged on the site to determine what exactly caused it.

Just over six months ago, a gas leak caused a blast that injured one and brought down part of a Motel 6 in Bremerton, Washington, just across Puget Sound from Wednesday morning’s blast.

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