An explosion along the Colonial Pipeline in rural Alabama killed one worker and injured six others Monday not far from where the line burst and leaked thousands of gallons of gasoline in September, authorities say. The blast, which sent flames and thick black smoke soaring over the forest, happened near Helena, south of Birmingham, about a mile away from where the pipeline ruptured in September, Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. That break led to gasoline shortages across the South. "We'll just hope and pray for the best," Bentley said. Georgia-based Colonial said in a brief statement that it had shut down its main pipeline in the area, the AP reports.
Bentley said the blast seems to have been an accident. The injured workers were taken to hospitals by helicopter and ambulance, the governor told WBRC; their conditions weren't immediately known. In September, the pipeline leaked 252,000 to 336,000 gallons of gasoline, which led to dry fuel pumps and price spikes in several Southern states—for days, in some cases. There was no immediate indication whether Monday's explosion will lead to similar shortages. Plagued by a severe drought after weeks without rain, the section of the state where the explosion happened has been scarred by multiple wildfires in recent weeks, and crews are working to keep the blaze from spreading across the landscape.