Police: Man admits he stepped on gas meter before Bremerton Motel 6 explosion

BREMERTON, Wash. -- Bremerton police said Wednesday that a father told officers that he and possibly his stepdaughter stepped on the gas meter at the Motel 6 and heard hissing before an explosion leveled part of the building later.

A Cascade Natural Gas Co. employee, Larry Jennings, was critically injured in the Aug. 18 gas explosion. He was still listed in serious condition Wednesday at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center.

All of the guests had been safely evacuated by hotel employees who had smelled a strong odor of natural gas.

Bremerton Police Chief Steven Strachan said that officers were first called to the motel to handle a family disturbance. Officers were just arriving when the gas leak was reported, and they helped evacuate guests.

"The report of the disturbance was in relation to a juvenile female who had fled her home in Brownsville (Wash.) following a family argument," Strachan said. "Her stepfather ... had located her and had taken her to the motel to let everyone cool down and to keep her away from her mother."

When the mother showed up at the motel, the stepfather decided to escape with his stepdaughter out of the motel's second-floor window.

"The stepfather has admitted that he stepped on the gas meter to assist his stepdaughter out of the second floor window," Strachan said. "The stepdaughter may also have contacted the meter and the pipes leading to it. The man has further admitted that after contacting the meter and pipes they heard a loud hissing sound."

They drove away before the explosion occurred about 30 minutes later.

Strachan said the meter, pipes and other items are still being investigated.

The names of the persons involved are not being released at this time, Strachan said.  The file will be referred to the Kitsap County Prosecutor’s Office, and any decisions on possible criminal charges would be made by that office, he added.

The entire investigation may take weeks or months to be completed, he said.

Police also released surveillance videos of the explosion Tuesday night.