CA Pipeline Blast Kills 1, Hurts 2

Wednesday, November 18, 2015 @ 09:11 AM gHale

A ruptured natural gas line exploded Friday in rural Central California, sending flames 200 feet into the air, killing one person and injuring two others before officials were able to shut it down, authorities said.

The blast occurred on the Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) line after someone cut the line by using heavy equipment in a farm field south of town around 3:30 p.m., Kern County fire Capt. Tom Ellison said. The pipeline was about 12 feet underground when struck, but officials said it is unclear what kind of work was going on.

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Video from drivers on nearby roads showed two enormous flames flaring into the sky.

The fire destroyed a nearby home, and Ellison said the two people who sustained injuries were from the home. A child was also in the home, but not injured, Ellison said, adding that he could see the flames responding to the call from six miles away.

“The fire burned so intensely,” he said. “Everything was gone. It was black.”

The operator of the heavy equipment died from injuries, Ellison said.

The two injured people received second- and third-degree burns over 20 to 30 percent of their bodies, Hall Ambulance officials said.

Workers were able to quickly shut down the gas line and the fire was out by 4:30 p.m., said PG&E spokesman Jeff Smith. The line underwent inspection between Nov. 10 and 12, Smith said. PG&E did receive notice before of work near the pipeline, but Smith said work notice expired on Nov. 5. There was no current work notice, he said.