Two homeowners were killed early Tuesday morning by an explosion that flattened their manufactured home at 3585 SE Soholt Lane in South Kitsap.
The retired couple who lost their lives has been identified as William and Maria McDonald. Maria was a 20-year employee at Kitsap Bank in Port Orchard.
The explosion happened at about 4:10 a.m. Feb. 23, prompting what Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Scott Wilson said was an outpouring of 911 calls.
“We must have gotten hundreds of calls — maybe up to 500,” he said. Calls flooded in from places as far away as Silverdale and Bangor. Some reported to law enforcement that they suspected the noise had been a sonic boom.
A cause for the explosion hasn’t yet been determined, although it is suspected to have been caused by a propane leak. Sgt. Ken Dickinson said the house was heated by propane, as are many homes in this rural area of South Kitsap.
The explosion sent parts of the triple-wide manufactured home high into the air, including its roof trusses that landed onto towering evergreen trees.
“The place is leveled,” Wilson said. “It’s turned into popsicle sticks as to be expected with an explosion of this nature.”
A rescue and recovery dog was sent onto the property to smell for clues and search for possible victims.
An email sent home to school parents from South Kitsap School District Superintendent Michelle Reid said that several windows had been blown out at nearby Mullenix Ridge Elementary.
Reid also said the district will be on a normal operation schedule for the day.
Two neighbors reported the blast had shattered windows at their homes. Lynn Soholt said some windows at his workshop and those on the side of his home were broken. Soholt lives about a quarter-mile from the explosion scene. Neighbors Michelle and Harold Reynolds, who live closer to the site, said they didn’t find damage at their home but were nonetheless rattled by the early morning explosion.
Fire crews from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue responded to the fire, quickly doused flames and closed Ramiller Lane SE between SE Mullenix Road and SE Scofield Road.
Law enforcement officials also called in experts from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and David Lynam, Kitsap County Fire Marshal, to continue the investigation.