The Olympic pipeline explosion on June 10th, 1999, was caused by the ignition of gasoline leaking from a petroleum pipeline carrying product from the Cherry Point refinery, after it ruptured at a point where it passed through Whatcom Falls Park in Bellingham, Washington.
At around 3:30 pm, a pressure build-up caused a rupture in the 16-inch-diameter steel pipeline, near the water treatment plant in Whatcom Falls Park. Some 237,000 gallons of gasoline spilled into Hanna Creek and flowed into Whatcom Creek, and ignited about 1½ hours after the rupture, burning a 1½ mile stretch along the creek.
Three people were killed, the first being 18-year-old Liam Wood who was fly fishing in the creek. He was overcome by fumes and drowned after losing consciousness and falling into the water. Two 10-year-old boys, Wade King and Stephen Tsiorvas, were playing near the creek and are believed to have inadvertently ignited the fuel with a lighter. They were badly burned and died in hospital. The cause of the rupture was found to be due to damage during previous excavation work, and inspection, monitoring and procedural failings by the Olympic Pipeline Company.