A regional gas pipeline ruptured early Thursday in Kentucky, causing a massive explosion that killed one person, hospitalized five others, destroyed railroad tracks and forced the evacuation of a nearby mobile home park, authorities said.
The 30 inch wide pipeline moves natural gas under high pressure, so the rupture at about 1 a.m. caused a tremendous amount of damage in the immediate area, authorities said. Firefighters were still working to douse the flames hours later, with trucks repeatedly refilling their tanks and returning to the scene.
County Emergency Management Director Don Gilliam said the flames reached about 300 feet in the air and could be seen throughout Lincoln County.
— Chris Bailey (@Kentuckyweather) August 1, 2019
Emergency managers said the rupture involved the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline, which is owned and operated by Calgary-based Enbridge. The pipeline stretches more than 9,000 miles, from the Mexican border in Texas to New York City.
Enbridge Spokesman Michael Barnes says they have lowered the pressure along the affected section of the pipeline.“Our first concern is for all of those impacted by this incident and ensuring the safety of the community. We are working with emergency managers to secure the site and have isolated the affected section of pipeline.”
There have been eight incidents along the pipeline this year including a lightning strike in Maryland and a similar explosion in Ohio earlier this year. In May, an improperly closed valve released more than 19,000 cubic feet of natural gas at the Danville Compressor Station in Lincoln County. It’s unclear if the event is related to Thursday’s explosion, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline & Hazardous materials Safety Administration.
The blast also damaged railroad tracks, forcing 31 trains to back up overnight, authorities said.
Some 75 people in the Indian Camp trailer park in the Moreland community were evacuated to the New Hope Baptist Church in Stanford. Authorities said they don’t yet know if others are missing or unaccounted for.
Authorities urged people gathering for the multistate 127 Yard Sale to stay away as crews worked to contain the damage.
This post has been updated.