BREMERTON, Wash., Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Emergency officials in a Seattle suburb said everyone is accounted for after a gas leak explosion at a Motel 6 caused a partial building collapse and left one person injured Tuesday.
The explosion in Bremerton was so severe it blew firefighters on the scene about 20 feet back. Hotel employees reported a gas leak after detecting a natural gas smell at 7:54 p.m. local time, and people began to evacuate. The explosion happened at 8:24 p.m.
A Cascade Gas company employee checking on the leak before the explosion was critically hurt with second- and third-degree burns. He was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with the Cascade Gas employee critically injured tonight," Bremerton Police Department said in a statement.
Firefighters are going through the damaged area of the motel now checking to ensure everyone was evacuated pic.twitter.com/Bb3RyTGv3f— Bremerton Police (@BremertonPD) August 19, 2015
Emergency workers initially believed three people may have been trapped in the rubble, but they called off search efforts Wednesday afternoon. They believe the three guests had already left the hotel and were uninjured, KING-TV in Seattle reported.
Bremertown is a town of about 39,000 people that's about a one-hour ferry ride away from Seattle.
"The shaking was bad enough that the neighbors thought a tree fell on their house," Alice Adams, a nearby resident, told NBC News. "Both the sound and force made it almost instantly obvious that it was an explosion and not something smaller like a firework explosion or gunshot."
Three people who were believed to have stayed at the hotel are still missing, according John Hawkins of the Bremerton Fire Department.
"We're certainly hoping and praying that everybody did get evacuated successfully, but we can't confirm for sure yet that that occurred," Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan said.