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Mammoth Gas Line Ka-Boom Eats Interstate Highway & Burns Homes

 

"Fire Sounds Like a Jet Plane Flying Over the Roof"

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A 20-INCH NATURAL GAS TRANSMISSION LINE blew in Sissonville, West Virginia, Tuesday afternoon and started a large fire that consumed five houses.

AP

The rupture ripped open around 12:40 pm in the small town near Charleston and brought life in the area to a standstill as the ear-splitting roar of the fire and 75-ft. high flames dominated the neighborhood.  The Associated Press reports:

Four (now five) homes went up in flames and collapsed in charred heaps Tuesday after a natural gas line exploded in an inferno that raged for at least an hour, melting guardrails and pavement on a swath of Interstate 77.

AP

Trevor Goins lives about a half-mile from the explosion and was watching television in his apartment when he saw a ripple in his coffee cup and the floor shook. "I thought possibly (it was) a plane crash," said Goins, who immediately went outside with several neighbors. "It was so loud it sounded like a turbine engine. You almost had to put your hands over your ears."

"The flames were so high, they were so massive," he said. "I could only imagine what had happened." Carper said the flames spanned about a quarter of a mile and ran through a culvert under the interstate.

"It actually cooked the interstate," he said. "It looks like a tar pit." A roughly 800-foot section both directions was baked by the heat.  "It turned the asphalt to cinder," he said, after walking across it. "Your feet were hot. It was like walking on a volcano."

NBC News posted this video from the scene:

 

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 The gas supplier Columbia Gas Transmision had the pipeline shut down relatively quickly, but it took nearly an hour for the pressure to drop and for the gas to burn off.

Miraculously, despite the heavy destruction there were no reported injuries other than two people who had minor smoke inhalation.  Nor were there an vehicles on that stretch of the Interstate when it blew.

Daily Mail

As soon as the fire died out, work crews went to work repairing the gas line while highway workers began scraping away the asphalt from the highway down to the concrete base.  New asphalt is being applied tonight and the highway department says that they expect to be able to reopen the Interstate sometime Wednesday night.

Daily Mail

The Charleston Daily Mail has more details HERE plus a good video.

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