Massive gas leak closes major streets, building evacuated

Seattle firefighters work to secure an area around an industrial building with a gas leak.

SEATTLE -- A natural gas leak forced a business near the West Seattle Bridge to evacuate and major thoroughfares to be closed Tuesday morning.

Firefighters were called to the scene of a gas leak at an industrial building in the 44 block of South Spokane Street after workers reported a fork lift punctured a 2-inch gas line. Officials quickly evacuated everyone from the building, fearing even a small spark could light a fire, since lots of natural gas poured out.

No one was hurt and everyone was quickly out of the building. The business is thought to be Buffalo Industries, Inc., known to create heavy absorption pads.

Realizing the problem was large and gas would take some time to clear, firefighters and city transportation officials closed nearby streets. Those closures:

-          1ST AVE S exit off W Seattle Bridge

-          Spokane Street also closed from 1st Ave S to East Marginal Way

-          BNSF trains diverted from tracks nearby

The train tracks were reopened and the exit to 1st Avenue South on the West Seattle Bridge were opened around 7:30 a.m.

Firefighters transported a huge fan to the scene usually used in tunnel fires in an effort to ventilate the building and air out the gas. Puget Sound Energy officials were on the scene and monitoring the situation, Seattle Fire Spokesperson Kyle Moore said.

The 2-inch hole was plugged around 7:05 a.m., and workers continued to work to clear the scene.

Puget Sound Energy said the a pallet loaded with goods at a nearby warehouse fell off a forklift and snapped a gas meter off a pipe causing the leak.  The repair work was expected to take most of the day.