Night Turned Into Morning. Then, 'Like an Atomic Bomb Went Off'

One dead, 5 injured, 7 missing after pipeline explosion near Junction City, Ky.
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 1, 2019 11:32 AM CDT
1 Dead, 7 Missing After Pipeline Blast in Kentucky
In this Thursday photo, a fire burns after an explosion near Junction City, Ky.   (Naomi Hayes via AP)

A regional gas pipeline ruptured early Thursday in Kentucky, causing a massive explosion that killed one person, hospitalized five others, destroyed railroad tracks, and forced the evacuation of a nearby mobile home park, authorities said. Some structures were completely consumed by the blaze, and five to seven people were unaccounted for when firefighters extinguished the flames hours later, Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Don Gilliam said. "The part of the area that has been compromised, there's just nothing left," he added when asked whether residents might return to their trailer homes. "The residences that are still standing or damaged will be accessible." The 30-inch-wide pipeline moves natural gas under such high pressure that the flames reached about 300 feet in the air and could be seen throughout the county, Gilliam said, per the AP.

One person who was evacuated told WKYT, via CBS News: "It was like an atomic bomb went off." The explosion around 1am was so huge that it showed up on radar, per a tweet from a WKYT-TV meteorologist. It took hours for firefighters to douse the flames, with trucks repeatedly refilling their tanks and returning to the scene. Emergency managers said the rupture involved the Texas Eastern Transmission pipeline, which is owned and operated by Enbridge. The pipeline stretches more than 9,000 miles, from the Mexican border in Texas to New York City. In a statement, the company said, "Enbridge is aware of and is responding to a rupture on the Texas Eastern system in Lincoln County." The blast also damaged railroad tracks, forcing 31 trains to back up overnight, authorities said. (More Kentucky stories.)

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