UPDATE: Car hits natural-gas line in Highland Park & flips; leak forces 150+ to evacuate

(ADDED: WSB photo of flipped car. Gas infrastructure is at left)

FIRST REPORT, 12:01 AM: Seattle Fire is sending a “heavy rescue” response to the 900 block of SW Holden, just west of Highland Park Way [map]. It’s described as a rollover crash, with a ruptured natural-gas line, which might mean evacuations of nearby apartments. We’re on our way.
(Photo tweeted by @cmosetick)
12:15 AM: We’ve just arrived a few blocks away in the Highland Park Improvement Club parking lot. The odor is strong in the air even here. According to the scanner, people are being evacuated within a block of the crash; one person was reported to be in the car, injuries apparently not major.


12:25 AM: Residents are being sent west. Our crew has been told that the car hit a meter near Holden/Highland Park Way. As you can imagine, we’re being kept a ways back for safety too.

12:30 AM: It’s an inch-and-three-quarters line, SFD says, and Puget Sound Energy (the gas utility) is reported to be here dealing with it. More SFD units are arriving, with sirens, too. From @bites via Twitter, here’s a Vine with the screeching sound of the ruptured line.

12:50 AM: Three Metro buses are being brought in for evacuees to get shelter. Here’s one, by 12th/Holden:


About 150 people are reported to have been evacuated. PSE has not yet been able to shut off the leak, according to the scanner, and has called for a “pressure team.”

1:34 AM: Lots more PSE people here now. So is SFD’s public-information officer Corey Orvold; we’re asking her if there’s an estimate of how much longer it might take before people can go back in. The rolled car is still in the bushes near Holden/HP Way; the driver, described only as “male,” is at Harborview. Police are still trying to sort out the circumstances.

1:52 AM: Per scanner, “PSE has got the gas shut down.”

2:01 AM: Most of the SFD units have been dismissed. They’re reopening Highland Park Way but keeping westbound Holden closed for now. We finally have a photo of the flipped car to add atop the story. Checking on the evacuation status.

2:13 AM: SFD has tweeted that evacuees have been allowed home.

2:29 AM: SFD’s Orvold confirms everyone’s been allowed back inside. A tow truck is here and they’re strategizing how to get the car out.

6:50 AM: Per Tweets by Beat, this is classified as a DUI investigation.

30 Replies to "UPDATE: Car hits natural-gas line in Highland Park & flips; leak forces 150+ to evacuate"

  • Marie the Bee March 4, 2016 (12:14 am)

    oooooh schnikers that’s not good. Hope I’m not evacuated omg

    • Marie the Bee March 4, 2016 (12:15 am)

      you can hear the sirens from my house

  • Mike March 4, 2016 (1:03 am)

    Well that explains the commotion in the back yard… Must literally be a couple feet outside their evacuation area.

  • Trevor March 4, 2016 (1:05 am)

    Jesus, relieve us. That’s the second crash around there today. I work at the seamart on 16th and holden, and there was a crash at that intersection today, around 6 or so. I think people need to go back to Driver’s Ed class or something. Too many accidents in this neighborhood. Between the intersection of 16th/Highland park Way and the intersection of 16th/Holden are some of the worst road layouts. I hope this gas leak is taken care of quick though.

    • Laura Drake March 4, 2016 (6:48 am)

      There needs to be a left-turn signal on 16th and Holden.

  • Shawn March 4, 2016 (1:08 am)

    From my top floor window across the street, it almost looks like the car is a cop car or taxi. It is solidly inside that has substation area.

  • jacksdad March 4, 2016 (1:09 am)

    Heard the crash then the hissing then got evacuated.. Sure makes you wonder how a single vehicle accident like this can happen without the obvious answer of dui?!?

  • Kit Harris March 4, 2016 (1:09 am)

    Was routed off W Highland Drive trying to get home after work at midnight. Had to take the Myers Way to get back to the top of the east ridge, but couldn’t get on SW Holden until about 12th Avenue. Hope they got it dealt with. Lots of uniforms and emergency vehicles involved.

    • WSB March 4, 2016 (1:15 am)

      We haven’t been able to see the car, what with the perimeter set up. The driver has long since been taken to the hospital by private ambulance, not life-threatening injuries. PSE trying to get the gas shut off seems to be the biggest problem here.

  • Dere March 4, 2016 (1:31 am)

    We have sitting in our car for about 45 minutes waiting to get back in our apartment. this sucks

  • Shawn March 4, 2016 (1:33 am)

    Not a cop or taxi. I took a long exposure with a good camera. I’ll send you a pic.

  • Katrina March 4, 2016 (1:50 am)

    I am just outside the evac zone for sure I can hear what is going in from my bedroom, I really hope I don’t end up evacuated…. 

  • Shawn March 4, 2016 (1:52 am)

    We could hear as soon as they turned off the gas. So much more quiet now. Brave PSE and Seattle Fire to go into there to turn it off!

  • BC March 4, 2016 (1:53 am)

    Please let us know when the evacuation will be lifted. We’ve got two little ones and a newborn all in PJ’s waiting to get back home. Praying for the police, firefighters, and PSE workers trying to make it happen by risking their lives. 

    • WSB March 4, 2016 (2:14 am)

      SFD has tweeted that people have been allowed back home. We should be able to verify in a few minutes.

      (added) And hopefully you all already are home and safe – we have verified the evacuations are over.

  • Vanessa March 4, 2016 (4:17 am)

    I live in one of the townhouse complexes between Highland Park Way and 11th. We either slept through the evacuation or were not evacuated, both of which are scary ideas since we have a newborn.  :(

  • Neighbor March 4, 2016 (5:36 am)

    No more driving privileges for the individual that caused this…period. They’re done.

    • newnative March 4, 2016 (8:06 am)

      I should hope to shout.  

  • Trickycoolj March 4, 2016 (5:50 am)

    Is the road open now? Do I need to leave for work extra early to go take the high bridge instead of HP Way to South Park?

    • Alan March 4, 2016 (9:00 am)

      If you are going to South Park, why wouldn’t you take Roxbury? If you are far enough south that you normally take HP Way, I would think Roxbury would be the closer alternative.

  • Alan March 4, 2016 (7:15 am)

    Wow, that took some effort to hit that gas line. They had to go over a curb, then the equivalent of a front lawn, through a chain-link fence and then still have enough speed to break what appears to a major pipe. The only way I can imagine this happening is that they were traveling eastbound on HP Way and fell asleep or decided they should turn left on Holden at 60+ miles an hour.

    If someone from HPIC had known about this, I’m sure they would have opened up the building for the evacuees. It probably wouldn’t have been as warm as the bus that time of night but at least there are bathrooms.

  • Kay K March 4, 2016 (9:02 am)

    I’ve been told this area is where main gas lines come up to serve West Seattle and have always worried about this sort of thing. Wonder what sort of shutdowns PSE may have in place to safeguard in the case of a big earthquake?

  • Cindy Mix March 4, 2016 (9:04 am)

    This is accident #8 in this intersection since June 2015…I’ve asked DOT to do something about this intersection and even solicited help from Lisa Herbold…the DOT says they won’t fund anything for this area.  I don’t know what you have to do, to make your neighborhood safe…

    • Alan March 4, 2016 (12:27 pm)

      The vast majority of cars going through this intersection are not from the immediate neighborhood, so it isn’t just about making Riverview/Highland Park safe, but about making it safe for those from across West Seattle, as well as for students at SSC. Anyone that doesn’t think something needs to be done should be forced to make left turns from eastbound Holden from 6 am until 7 pm for a day.

      That being said, no traffic revision would address however this particular accident happened. Concrete barriers should probably be placed in front of the gas lines.

  • WSB March 4, 2016 (9:24 am)

    Several followup questions were raised by this, including that, and of course the ongoing issue of one of West Seattle’s most problematic intersections. Will be pursuing – TR

  • Erica March 4, 2016 (10:15 am)

    Would a gas leak turn off water up in the Alaskan junction? And then return with brown water later?

    • WSB March 4, 2016 (10:33 am)

      No. Are you having brown water problems? Somebody texted us this morning so we’re investigating, again. Please call SPU 206-386-1800; let us know what they said (e-mail editor@westseattleblog.com or text us at 206-293-6302) ….

  • HPGirl March 4, 2016 (2:12 pm)

    I live in one of the buildings that was evacuated and I had brown-ish water this morning.  Will you post it on the blog if you get any more information about charges brought against the driver?  I’m curious to know what will happen to him/her.  

    • WSB March 4, 2016 (2:39 pm)

      HPGirl – I’m working on a followup with at least three components and that’s one of them. So far, the major info I have obtained is about the gas installation that the driver hit – still waiting for SDOT info and checking on SPD info. It’ll be a separate story sometime in the next few hours. – TR

  • Gunner March 8, 2016 (10:48 am)


    At the March 23, HPAC meeting we will be having a Facilitated discussion:  Neighbor Assessment of Highland Park area streets, sidewalks, alleyways, and traffic issues – taking stock of the problem areas in order to develop some recommendations, future grants, and plans. Please consider attending


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