Pennsylvania gas line explosion prompts evacuations, sends flames into sky



A gas line explosion Monday morning prompted evacuations and sent flames shooting into the sky in Pennsylvania, officials said.

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Update 1:55 p.m. EDT Sept. 10: People evacuated during the gas line explosion in Beaver County have been allowed to return to their homes, except for those who live on Ivy Lane and Pine Street, Beaver County Emergency Services officials said in a tweet.

Evacuees woke up to the loud sound of the explosion and flames that cast a bright orange glow in the sky above Center Township. Some witnesses said it sounded like a plane crash or a bomb.

A house was destroyed. The people who lived there got out safely.

Two garages were also destroyed, and multiple cars were burned.

“There was a threat. It was immediate. Had this fire continued to burn out of control, there would’ve been more residual damage,” Center Township Fire Chief Barry Kramer said. “Main priority was public safety, and that is what the police department and fire department did.”

People living within a half-mile radius of the explosion were evacuated, but the fire could be seen for miles.

“Got up like 5 o’clock this morning. I seen the whole sky lit up. I thought I was late for work,” Fortunato Luca, a resident, said.

Fire officials said rain prevented the fire from spreading to nearby wooded areas.

Update 11:50 a.m. EDT Sept. 10: The fire ignited by Monday morning's gas line explosion in Center Township burnt itself out after an automated system shut down the valves, officials said.

The 24-inch independent gas line opened Sept. 3 and runs from northern Butler County to Bulger. Officials said it is buried about 3 feet below the surface.

Energy Transfer released the following statement:

"We did experience an incident this morning on a 24-inch natural gas gathering line in Beaver County, PA. There were no injuries. This incident, which occurred at approximately 5 a.m. Eastern time was detected by out monitoring system, which triggered the closing of valves to isolate the line. By around 7 a.m., the fire on the pipeline had extinguished itself.

"There were evacuations from several homes in the area. All the appropriate regulatory notifications have been made. We do not know the cause of the incident at this time, however, a through investigation will be conducted.

"We have activated a toll-free phone number for people who have experienced property damage. That number is 800-445-5846. We will provide updates as information becomes available."

No environmental issues were associated with the explosion and fire, officials said.

One home and two garages were destroyed, and multiple cars were burned.

Although the line is not associated with Peoples Gas, the company is checking the meters of evacuated homes before it is determined when residents can return.

The Red Cross has responded to assist people displaced by the incident.

Six high-tension towers collapsed, likely subsequent to the fire, officials said. As a result, about 1,500 power outages were reported in the region.

It was not immediately clear when power would be restored.

Update 8:55 a.m. EDT Sept. 10: One home and two garages were destroyed, and multiple cars were burned when the natural gas line exploded early Monday morning in Center Township, officials said.

The explosion, which occurred around 5 a.m. in a line owned and operated by Energy Transfer, led to the evacuations of 25-30 homes. Many residents went to the fire hall on Brodhead Road.

No one was injured in the explosion, but some people required medical attention because of health issues, officials said.

At about 5:52 a.m., pipeline company employees told officials that valves were shut off, but it took time for the remaining gas in the line to burn off.

During the explosion, power lines fell and blocked Bunker Hill Road. Power companies have been called to de-energize the lines and remove them.

Original report: The explosion was reported about 5 a.m. Monday in the area of Ivy Lane in Center Township outside Pittsburgh.


WPXI's Mike Holden reported that evacuations are underway. 

No injuries have been reported, officials said.


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