A 30-inch gas pipeline exploded in Junction City, Kentucky, leaving one dead and five others hospitalized around 1 a.m. Thursday morning.
Seven people remain missing, according to the Associated Press.
Around 75 residents of a trailer park were evacuated from the area after the fatal explosion destroyed surrounding railroad tracks and several buildings. Flames reached an estimated 300-400 feet in the air, the Wall Street Journal reported. 31 trains were backed up overnight due to the explosion.
“I thought the world was coming to an end,” said Don Coulter, 84, who lives in the Moreland trailer community.
The coroner has identified Lisa Renee Derringer, 58, as the woman who died in the explosion, according to WLKY News.
“The part of the area that has been compromised, there’s just nothing left,” Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Don Gilliam said. It took firefighters hours to quell the flames. “It was impressive, to say the least. It kind of was daylight around here for a while,” Gilliam said.
The explosion was so massive that the heat and smoke it generated was captured on local radar satellites. Chris Bailey, WKYT chief meteorologist in Lexington, Kentucky, tweeted pictures of the smoke plumes picked up by radar.
— Chris Bailey (@Kentuckyweather) August 1, 2019
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that flames could be seen from his hometown of Louisville nearly 70 miles away in remarks on the Senate floor today. “Obviously the investigation is just beginning,” the senior senator from Kentucky said.
The pipeline, which carries natural gas, is operated by Enbridge, a Canadian multinational energy transportation company, and stretches almost 9,000 miles from the U.S.-Mexican border in Texas to New York City, according to the New York Post.
In response to the explosion, the company issued a statement saying, “Enbridge is aware of and is responding to a rupture on the Texas Eastern system in Lincoln County.” The affected line has been isolated and crew members are working to further manage the scene.
Other nearby residents tweeted pictures and videos of the tragic explosion.
— Maddy (@M_Sinkhorn) August 1, 2019
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