Bellingham, WA Gasoline Leak Causes Fireball, Jun 1999

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GASOLINE LEAK IGNITES, SENDING DEADLY FIREBALL DOWN CREEKBED IN PARK.

Bellingham, Wash. - (AP) - A gigantic fireball sparked by thousands of gallons of leaking gasoline raced down a stream for a mile and a half killing three people, including two boys.
People ran for their lives Thursday
when they smelled gas fumes. The fuel, leaking from a pipeline, caused several explosions and sent a huge cloud of black smoke six miles into the sky.
"It looked like a napalm drop," said Grant Stevens, who lives nearby.
The gasoline ran down Whatcom Creek, a stream that runs from a park through residential neighborhoods and the downtown of this northwest Washington city of 60,000.
The cause of the leak was not immediately known, nor was the source of the ignition, said officials of Olympic Pipe Line Co., the operators of the line.
Spot fires still burned Friday, preventing investigators from a close examination.
The amount spilled had not been determined, but estimates ranged from 84,000 gallons to 277,000 gallons.
Two 10-year-old playmates, WADE KING and STEPHEN TSIORVAS, died Friday at a hospital of burns that covered 90 percent of their bodies.
Relatives said the boys had been playing by the creek.
A family friend, Tyrone Francisco, 16, ran from the house after hearing the explosion to search for the boys. He spotted them ablaze in a field of black smoke near the creek.
Andrew Tsiorvas, 15, said his younger brother told him that he and WADE had jumped into the creek to try to escape the flames.
Police identified the body of the third victim as LIAM GORDON WOOD, 19, who had graduated from high school just last week. He had been
fishing in the creek a short distance upstream from where the boys had been playing, officers said.
Police said fewer than 10 other people were treated for minor injuries at hospitals and released.

Santa Cruz Sentinel California 1999-06-12