Jodie Coulter’s mobile home was about 200 feet from the Lincoln Country, Kentucky pipeline which exploded last Thursday. She narrowly escaped her home as it began to burn, sustaining burn injuries to her arms. Now, she says that she tried to report a potential leak but is not sure if she reached the right company. The blast took the life of one person and injured several more. As of Friday, one person remained in the hospital because of the blast.
The National Transportation Safety Board is in Lincoln County investigating the incident. One question NTSB investigators will seek to answer is whether corrosion played a factor in the explosion and if owner Enbridge maintained the pipeline sufficiently enough to prevent an accident.
Early Signs May Have Indicated an Impending Blast
Coulter told the Lexington Herald Leader that she felt the ground beneath her mobile home shake twice during the days leading up the explosion. She claims that, even though both incidents were brief, they provided enough shaking to knock pictures off the walls of her home. She also noted her dog kept sniffing around the pipe’s location—a behavior Coulter noted was unusual for her pet.
Worried about the pipeline’s condition, Coulter searched nearby signs for a number to call and report her concerns. After finding no such information posted, she took her search to Google and called a company she found. However, she is not certain if she reached Enbridge.
Notably, Coulter told reporters that someone had recently placed stakes in the ground near where she believes the pipeline exploded. It is currently not known if any work had been done to the area or if these stakes are related to the explosion. Enbridge declined to give details about the incident. Mike Hiller, the lead investigator for the NTSB, said that the board was not aware of any early reports before the explosion.
A “Tornado of Fire”
One thing Coulter is certain about is how fortunate she is to be alive. She says that she walked outside to see a “tornado of fire” near her home. As the tower of flames rattled the windows of her mobile home, she noticed something startling: the inside of her home was smoldering, and plastic items were beginning to melt.
Coulter sustained burn injuries on her arms. Additionally, the fire destroyed the home that she shared with her husband. All their belongings, including the tools her husband used for work, were lost. However, Coulter is thankful that she survived the incident.
“I’m blessed and glad to be alive,” she said.
The NTSB Reveals Details About the Pipe
Hiller revealed that the section of the pipeline which ruptured was installed in 1957. It runs from Ohio to Mississippi, carrying 1.8 million cubic gas each day. The source of ignition is not known. However, the NTSB did confirm that the blast blew a 30-foot portion of the pipeline to the surface. Investigators will likely take a piece of this pipe back to Washington D.C. for an analysis of its condition.