Injured firefighter describes the moment the heart of Greenwood blew up

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SEATTLE -- One of the nine firefighters injured in the Greenwood explosion recounted the terrifying moment.

“Bumps and bruises -- luckily, I'm pretty squared away,” Lt. Edward Newell said.

Newell explained that he was standing 10 feet away from Neptune Coffee when the building exploded.

“I heard a deep 'woof', like a sucking sound, then a deep resonant boom,” Newell said.

Q13 News photographer Bryan Howard was there as debris rained down from the blast as Newell's battalion chief yelled out, looking for her firefighters. Moments later, our cameras were rolling when the battalion chief found Newell along Greenwood Avenue.

“She saw me in front of the building, 'I’m OK, you are OK' -- both of us fell into our respective roles."

They made sure the other seven firefighters were alive -- and they were.

“The element of being in the right place at the right time,” Newell said.

The blast happened about 40 minutes into searching for the gas leak. Firefighters had just determined the leak was coming from a gas meter outside the building.

“From our perspective, the gas leak was coming from the gas meter and the street,” Newell said.

Newell said they called Puget Sound Energy to turn off the gas meter as protocol but something inside the building ignited, with the explosion sending shock waves miles away.

"Some of the things that will be looked at is construction in the area what was happening in the businesses" PSE spokesperson Andy Wappler.

It could take weeks until we know what caused the gas leak.

PSE, along with UTC, are digging into the maintenance history of the gas line in question. They have already isolated a section of the gas line through a hole drilled in the middle of Greenwood Avenue.

"It's isolating just that pipe so it can be tested for the investigation,” Wappler said.

The last time the gas line was inspected was just last year. Nothing was found so the cause remains a mystery.

“It's always kind of surreal when you are in this situation; we always have defining moments in your career,” Newell said.

Newell has been a firefighter for 33 years. He briefly toured the devastation on Thursday as crews worked to figure out the cause of the leak. PSE says the public can be assured the area is safe.