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9 Seattle firefighters hurt in natural gas blast; residents evacuated

An explosion rocked a Seattle neighborhood early Wednesday, injuring nine firefighters, forcing evacuations and heavily damaging buildings, officials said.

The blast occurred at 1:45 a.m. PST in the city's Greenwood section after fire crews responded to reports of a natural gas leak, Seattle Fire Department spokeswoman Corey Orvold said.

About 40 minutes after they arrived, an explosion rocked the area, she said.

Photos posted on the department's Twitter feed showed firefighters gazing at the rubble of one building, another partial building collapse, windows shattered in surrounding structures and debris tangled in trees and scattered over a large area.

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Eight fire crew members and a battalion chief were rushed to a hospital with minor injuries, officials said.

Harborview Medical Center spokeswoman Susan Gregg said early Wednesday that all of the firefighters were treated for injuries such as burns and abrasions, and that most will probably be soon released.

Orvold said an undetermined number of residents of an apartment building and another nearby residential structure were evacuated via buses brought in to help out.

There was no word of any other injuries or anyone missing, but Orvold said dogs were being used to go through the rubble just in case.

A man who lives close to the blast site told KOMO-TV that the blast shook him out of bed.

"Thought it was an earthquake, way too loud to be a gunshot. So I got out of bed, checked on the family, and my family's good. So I went outside and saw smoke," Josh Coolbaugh said.

He said he called business owners in the area he knows to wake them up and tell them what happened.

The fire department said nearly 70 of its personnel were on the scene at Greenwood Avenue and North 85th Street.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:25 a.m.: This article has been updated throughout with additional details and witness comments.

This article was originally published at 4:01 a.m.

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