Kentucky: 1 dead, 5 hospitalized in gas line rupture, fire

JUNCTION CITY, Ky. — 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.

The explosion was so huge that it showed up on radar, according to a tweet from WKYT-TV meteorologist Chris Bailey.

Emergency managers said the rupture involved the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline, which is owned and operated by Enbridge. The pipeline stretches more than 9,000 miles, from the Mexican border in Texas to New York City. A statement from the company based in Calgary, Canada, said “Enbridge is aware of and is responding to a rupture on the Texas Eastern system in Lincoln County.”

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.

Sofia Nunez was at home in Moreland when the explosion happened.

“There was a loud noise and it sounded like a tornado was outside our house. When you stepped outside you could hear the flames and feel the heat. It shook the house for nearly 30 minutes after the flames appeared and neighbors’ windows were shattered,” Nunez told CNN.

Charlie Lynch woke up in Danville to the whole sky lit up from the explosion. He said he drove 10-15 minutes before taking video, with flames and smoke visible the whole way.

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office told CNN at least five homes and a garage were on fire after the explosion, but that the gas line fire has been extinguished.

Authorities urged people gathering for the multistate 127 Yard Sale to stay away as crews worked to contain the damage.

CNN and Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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