Flames shoot into sky as natural gas explosion injures 1

The Associated Press

 

Crews are responding to a natural gas explosion in Pennsylvania where at least one injury has been reported.

 

 

GREENSBURG, Pa. (AP) — A natural gas explosion at a pipeline complex in Pennsylvania burned one person on Friday, but officials said a well fire that erupted at the site was under control.

The fire was reported in the morning at a complex owned by Texas Eastern Transmission, a unit of Spectra Energy Corp. of Houston, said John Poister, a spokesman for the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The explosion caused flames to shoot above nearby treetops in the largely rural Salem Township, about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh, and prompted authorities to evacuate businesses nearby. The cause of the blast wasn't immediately clear.

Company officials shut off the flow of gas, though residual fuel was expected to take hours to burn off, Poister said. The fire was considered under control within an hour.

"Our first concern is for the safety of the community, our employees, and any others who may be affected," according to a statement released by Spectra spokesman Creighton Welch.

Welch said the explosion and fire involved the company's pipeline, not a well.

Officials from the DEP, state police, and the company were all investigating the scene.

The identity of the injured man was not released, and it wasn't known whether he was working at the site or otherwise affected by the explosion and fire. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Pittsburgh. No information on his condition was available.

The pipeline in question was a 30-inch line, said Mary Beth Eslary, spokeswoman for Westmoreland County's emergency management agency.

Lorrie Sherman-Miller lives in Slickville, about 5 miles from the site, and said she's used to hearing a "rumble" from the rushing sound of gas when crews perform maintenance.

"But the sound this morning was magnified 1,000 times," Sherman-Miller said.

Sherman-Miller drove toward the site because she knows some people who live in the area, and parked at a BP gasoline station about a quarter mile from the fire to see it.

"As I drove to the site, the closer I got, the hotter it became. The sky and the flames were terrifying," she said. "When I pulled in to the BP it was so hot that I couldn't leave my window down. Steam was coming off the parking lot and the roads" which were damp from earlier rains.

 

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