A gas line exploded in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, leading to a large fire and evacuations. It caused many problems Monday morning, all before the sun came up.
The 5 a.m. explosion woke up an entire neighborhood along Ivy Lane in Center Township.
“I thought I was late for work. I looked at my watch, ‘Geez, it’s only 5.’ And the whole place was just lit up,” Fortunato Luca said.
A fire was burning bright, erasing the darkness. Luca ran to the window to see what was going on.
“I seen them flames reaching into the sky. Unreal. I thought a plane crashed or something,” he said.
A 24-inch methane line exploded. It belongs to Energy Transfer out of Dallas and is not associated with the nearby cracker plant. The line had just opened last Monday.
Energy Transfer issued the following statement:
We experienced an incident this morning on a 24″ natural gas gathering line in Beaver County, PA. There were no injuries and the area is secure. This incident, which occurred at approximately 5 a.m. Eastern time, was detected by our monitoring system, which triggered the closing of valves to isolate the line. By around 7 a.m. , the fire on the pipeline had extinguished itself. There were evacuations from several homes in the area. All of the appropriate regulatory notifications have been made. We do not know the cause of the incident at this time, however, a thorough investigation will be conducted. We have activated a toll-free phone number for individuals who have been affected. That number is 800-445-5846. We will provide updates as information becomes available.”
An automated system shut the valves.
“The fire actually was good for burning off the gas,” said Center Township Police Chief Barry Kramer. “Once the files were shut, the fire burned itself out.”
Up to 30 homes were evacuated within a half-mile of the fire. One home, two garages and multiple cars were destroyed. Wires fell down, causing 1,500 people to lose power.
“We have had six high-tension towers collapse, likely subsequent to the fire,” Kramer said.
One school district canceled class and a portion of I-376 was closed.
The fire started in a gathering line. Those are normally buried three feet below ground.
Ohio has roughly 1,100 miles of those gathering lines, which lead to larger transmission lines.
“It is an independent gas line that starts in northern Butler County and its destination is in Bulger, PA,” Kramer said.
Gas and oil lines are marked with yellow, black or red signs.
Energy Transfer said later on Monday that the explosion was caused by a landslide in the area.