Two men suffer severe burns in gas line explosion in Bellevue

BELLEVUE -- A frightening explosion landed two plumbers in the hospital with severe burns Thursday.

The men have been identified as 45-year-old Kevin Tronsdal and 36-year-old Brandon Springer.

Springer has burns to more than half his body.

When plumbers Tronsdal and Springer dug a hole to adjust a water main line, they had no idea the danger they were in.

“We had a live line in the hole that we shouldn’t have had,” Bellevue Fire Lt. Richard Burke said.

The workers didn’t realize there was natural gas flowing through a nearby line as they were soldering pipe. It’s unclear if the soldering caused the line to explode but it did shoot flames up to 8 feet high. The fire burned the shirts off of Tronsdal and Springer.

“The fuel load was huge,” Burke said.

“The two gentleman were able to crawl out, put themselves out at that point, I am sure everyone else assisted,” supervisor Kelly King said.

Co-workers desperately tried to douse the men with water.

“It could have been a lot worse; they are alive,” King said.

The injured plumbers work for MacDonald-Miller a subcontractor for BNBuilders.

The explosion happened in front of a vacant commercial property under renovation off of SE Eastgate Way.

Firefighters had to wait for PSE crews to shut off the gas line before they could tackle the fire.

PSE and L& I are investigating what went wrong.

MacDonald-Miller's president wants answers, too.

“Everyone works together as a team and something today went wrong,” company President Gus Simonds said.

He says his workers are on similar jobs everyday and nothing like this has ever happened.

“This is a scary event. We are all very concerned not only for them but the families and loved ones,” Simonds said.

As of Thursday evening, Tronsdal was in satisfactory condition, Springer in serious.

PSE says it is not uncommon for crews to work nearby active natural gas lines but it is too early to tell what exactly went wrong in Thursday’s incident.

Q13 FOX News checked into MacDonald-Miller’s history. The state’s most recent inspection was in 2012. There are no recent violations against the company.