A large explosion at a Lincoln County, Kentucky pipeline killed one woman and injured five more people early Thursday morning. The accident happened near Bowens Loop Road in Moreland, a community near Junction City and Hustonville. Initial reports indicate that the blast occurred because of a leak in a 30-inch section of the gas line. Authorities shut down U.S. 127 and evacuated at least 75 people from the area. The incident happened just before 2 a.m. and crews were able to knock down the flames after the gas line was shut off.
300-Foot Flames Which “Looked Like an Atomic Bomb Going Off”
Scenes from explosion show a barren landscape dotted with charred vegetation, structures, and vehicles. The blast occurred approximately 150 feet from a mobile home park and destroyed five homes. Responders described the blast radius as appearing otherworldly.
Residents could see flames from the ruptured line for miles around. Don Gilliam, director of Lincoln County Emergency Management, indicated that the fire extended up to 300 feet into the air. Local meteorologist Chris Bailey said that the explosion was so large that weather radars detected it.
Jerry Sinkhorn was near the ruptured gas line. In a comment to WLEX, he described the blast as looking like “an atomic bomb going off.” Sinkhorn said that he immediately knew it was a gas line.
"It woke us up and it was just a big roar and it was fire going up into the sky as far as you could see," said Sue Routin. "Our windows were shaking really bad, and our doors and the ground, you could hear the ground just moving and tumbling and rolling. And then we got to feeling the heat from the fire, so we got in our vehicle and took off to get away from it.”
Who Owns the Pipeline?
Officials revealed that Canadian energy company Enbridge owns the gas line and that it was a section of its Texas Eastern Transmission (TETCO) Pipeline. This major natural gas pipeline transports gas from the Gulf of Mexico through 10 states to deliver gas to the New York City area. The TETCO Pipeline is one of the largest pipeline systems in the United States.
Texas Eastern Transmission Pipeline: A History of Explosions
This is not the first time the TETCO Pipeline has exploded. The pipeline has been involved in numerous accidents throughout its decades-long history. A 1994 report from The New York Times reveals that Texas Eastern Transmission Corporation, owner of the pipeline at the time, was found to be at fault for fatal accidents that occurred in the 1980s. Three of the accidents involved the TETCO pipeline and caused a total of 10 deaths and 28 injuries.
In April of 2016, an explosion occurred near Salem Township, Pennsylvania. A portion of the TETCO pipeline, which was buried beneath a field, exploded. Like the most recent accident, this explosion was at a 30-inch section of the pipe and charred the surrounding landscape. Authorities had similarly bleak descriptions of what happened; it looked as if “you were looking into hell.” During this blast, one man sustained burns to over 75-percent of his body.
Another TETCO pipeline explosion happened earlier this year. In January, a 30-inch segment of the pipeline exploded in Noble County, Ohio. The incident injured one person, destroyed three homes, and damaged a road. The pipeline was built in the 1950s, and a 2012 inspection identified no issues with it.
Our Kentucky pipeline explosion lawyers will continue to monitor developments for this story.