Thursday, 13 December 2012

Gas pipeline explosion in West Virginia.

A gas pipeline exploded in Sissonville, West Virginia at about 12.40 pm local time (5.40 pm GMT), on Tuesday 11 December 2012, destroying four houses, causing extensive damage to five more and closing part of Interstate 77. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has said it was fortunate that nobody was killed. Several people have been treated for smoke inhalation and residents of nearby homes spent the night in a Methodist Church converted to a temporary shelter. A local factory, NGK Spark Plugs, was forced to close temporarily and children were kept inside at the local Elementary School till arrangements to take them home by bus could be made. Vehicles using Interstate 77 faced an 80 km diversion around the affected area. Much of the town lost its power temporarily during the incident, and phone services across several states were disrupted due to damage to a fiber-optic cable. Residents of Sissonville described the noise as being like that of a jet engine.

Arial photograph of the burning pipeline. AP.

The northbound lane of Interstate 77 re-opened early on Wednesday 12 December, but the southbound lane remains closed. The surface of the road after the incident has been described as 'like a tar pit', with melted guardrails, burned signs and a hole in the carriage-way. 

The surface of Interstate 77 after the fires were extinguished. WSAZ-TV.

The incident is being investigated by pipeline owners Colombia Gas, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board and local authorities.

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