Husband, wife dead after explosion in Port Orchard

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — A husband and wife were killed Tuesday in an explosion in Port Orchard.

Kitsap Co. Sheriff’s Deputy Scott Wilson said the couple that died in the explosion were 70-year-old William B. McDonald and his wife, 65-year-old Maria C. McDonald.

The Kitsap County coroner will later officially confirm the identities of the two killed in the explosion, but Deputy Wilson said officials have no reason to believe anyone other than William and Maria were in the home at the time of the incident.

Key developments: 

  • Explosion occurred in South Kitsap shortly after 4 am.
  • Remains of two people found in the rubble
  • Manufactured home leveled
  • Collateral damage to surrounding homes, school
  • Initial conclusion of cause released three days after blast, read it here.

The explosion happened in the 3500 block of Soholt Lane near Port Orchard shortly after 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Debris from the blast could be seen 80 feet up in the trees.

>> PHOTOS: House explodes near Port Orchard

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue said the cause of the explosion is under investigation, but here's what we know now.

Kitsap County Sheriff Scott Wilson said the home was a triple-wide manufactured home.

Fire officials said they have requested an assistant from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to help with the investigation.

Wilson said there were reports of collateral damage to other homes in the area. Windows at Mullenix Ridge Elementary were shattered, but school is in session as usual.

The blast is no longer a criminal investigation. Three days after the explosion, a cause was released on Friday.

Initial conclusions indicate that a propane leak of propane from gas piping on the east side of the home allowed gas to accumulate under and within the residence.

One of the victims in Tuesday's Port Orchard explosion, Maria McDonald, was a longtime Kitsap Bank employee.

"Maria was a very prompt person," said Steve Politakis, her coworker. "Very loyal and dependable employee. And the branch, everybody was here, and was quite shaken. We sent people home and went on from there."

Politakis decided to close the branch for the day.

By 5 p.m., customers were bringing flowers and plants as a memorial.

Nearly all knew about the blast but few had heard who the victims were.

"I didn't know it was Maria," said customer Mary Boehme. "I just knew two people were missing."

Boehme said it was Maria who helped sort out her accounts when her husband died.

"Oh, I'm so sorry to hear that," Boehme said. "Yeah, she's a wonderful lady. She was just very helpful."

The house explosion rocked seismometers across the Puget Sound. Pacific Northwest Seismic Network said it picked up air waves, not ground vibration.  

After the blast, Kitsap County residents contacted KIRO 7 saying they heard an explosion.  One caller said they felt the blast on Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton. Officers on the base began searching for the source until they realized it did not occur on the base.

KIRO 7 Facebook users across Kitsap County and beyond have been posting descriptions of what they felt.

"There was a huge explosion at 4:09 a.m. that shook homes, woke residents in the Olalla-Gig Harbor are early this morning," said KIRO 7 Facebook user Anne Wolfe Ehrhardt.

Viewers as far away as Renton and Covington reported feeling the explosion.

Another viewer messaged the KIRO 7 Facebook page with photos.

"Shook my house knocked stuff off the walls and I thought some of the windows broke, but the windows are fine. People are reporting damage to the homes that are closer to the explosion. I thought it was a earthquake at first @ 4:08AM," said Facebook user Becky Carpenter.