June 14, 1999
Meeting in Leavenworth last Thursday, June 10, the State Parks and Recreation Commission was already leaning toward denying Olympic Pipeline access through state parks land, because of potential disasters. The next day, a pipeline leak caused an explosion, killing three Bellingham boys in the Whatcom Creek basin. That also dealt Olympic's park access a death blow. It was denied.
Early estimates say the leak involved as much as 277,000 gallons of fuel. The blast sent a huge fireball a mile and a half down the creek bed, blackening the terrain and killing all wildlife in the stream.
Liam Wood was killed instantly. Wood, 19, was fishing in the creek. Two 10-year-olds, Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvus, were playing in the creek bed. They were taken by helicopter to Seattle's Harborview Hospital burn center with second- and third-degree burns over 90 percent of their bodies. Both boys died the next day.
Olympic vice-president Frank Hopf said the leak occurred 200 yards from the creek, where the line is eight feet deep. No evidence yet shows the pipeline rupture was deliberately caused, but that they were not ruling out any possibilities at this point.