SEATTLE – The explosion in the wee hours of March 9, 2016 injured firefighters checking out a gas leak, and the economic repercussions are still felt in the commercial center of Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood.
The broken glass, collapsed ceilings. damaged equipment and merchandise that store owners came upon as they checked on their businesses that day is largely gone. Much of the neighborhood looks like it did, but there’s still an empty lot surrounded by a chain link fence where three businesses once stood at the epicenter of the blast. A fourth building that once housed a bike shop is still boarded up, the brick on its side still bearing burn marks.
“In many important ways we are recovering and have recovered, said Davy Giugliano of G&O Family Cyclery which used to lease that singed building.
The store just opened in a new permanent location a block further north on Greenwood Avenue.
“We’re here in our new location and we’re really proud of it,” Giuliano said. “We’re going to be better equipped to serve our customers. But the fight for financial recovery, recuperation is ongoing.”
Guigliano, also known as Davy Oil, says he spends a lot of time fighting with his insurance company as he tries to become whole.
Puget Sound Energy, which owned the pike that leaded, says seven of the ten businesses it has dealt with directly have settled cases and three are outstanding, according to PSE Vice President Andy Wappler.
“We’ve also heard from insurance companies for other people who have settled with their insurance companies,” said Wappler. “That they may file a claim in the future, but those insurance companies for the most part haven’t yet.”
Financial compensation is just one issue that PSE has to deal with. The other is more than $3 million in fines and penalties from the Washington Utilities and Transportation commission, which regulates gas service in the state. Wappler expects that case to conclude soon.
But PSE has to go back over its records and survey its network to prevent another Greenwood blast.
It was a blast blamed on a retired gas line that was never disconnected from the gas main. For years, the capped, but otherwise connected line stood in a two foot wide gap between two of the destroyed buildings. Wappler says their own surveyors didn’t know it was there as the view of the space was blocked by wooden fences.
Investigators said later the space was being used for storage by several homeless people, and every time they passed the pipe they had to flex it to the side, where it finally cracked and leaked gas.
Wappler says the company is surveying its records and making physical inspections to make sure there are no other pipes being missed and is checking its pipe system for leaks.
Copyright 2017 KING
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