Propane leak blamed in fatal Port Orchard explosion

Fire investigators have released a report into what they believe caused an explosion that took the lives of a husband and wife in Port Orchard.

Kitsap County Sheriff deputy Scott Wilson said the couple who died in the explosion were 70-year-old William B. McDonald and his wife, 65-year-old Maria C. McDonald.

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

Here's what the investigation found:

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.

>> PHOTOS: House explodes near Port Orchard

Initial conclusions indicate that a leak of propane from gas piping on the East side of the home allowed gas to accumulate under and within the residence throughout the evening and early morning hours.

The concentration of propane reached its explosive limit around 4 a.m. and was ignited by an “unidentified source.”




The subsequent explosion destroyed the home and ignited a fire in the remaining debris and attached garage and storage structures. The fire marshal has secured a number of items including gas piping, valves and regulators for further examination.

Here’s what we know about the fire scene:

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

Fire officials requested assistance 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 School were shattered, but school is in session as usual.

The blast is no longer a criminal investigation. Read about the victims here.

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 the blast was felt on Naval Base Kitsap in Bremerton. Officers on the base began searching for the source until they realized that it did not occur on the base.

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

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