Kentucky Gas Explosion Injures Two, Prompts Knifley Evacuations

Image: Kentucky Gas Explosion Injures Two, Prompts Knifley Evacuations

Friday, 14 Feb 2014 10:44 AM

By Clyde Hughes

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A large underground natural gas line explosion near the south-central Kentucky town of Knifley early Thursday morning blasted a 60-foot crater just off State Highway 76, injuring two people and forcing emergency officials to evacuate homes near the affected area, according to Kentucky's WLKY-TV.

Kentucky State Police told motorists Thursday to stay away from State Highway 76 in Adair County because of the explosion, according to local news reports and wire services. The blast destroyed two homes and emergency officials transported Gayle and Mike Berry to a local hospital, where they were released, WLKY-TV reported.

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"While we regret that two individuals were injured this morning as a result of our ruptured pipeline, we are pleased to report that both have been released from the hospital," Columbia Gulf Transmission said in a statement.

"We remain thankful that there were no further injuries. Our staff is on site and speaking with those individuals, as well as reaching out to the local Red Cross, to offer any assistance that would help the community during this time. . . . At this time, there is no impact to commercial operations on Columbia Gulf and no impact to Columbia Gas Transmission."

The Louisville Courier-Journal wrote that 20 residents were evacuated from their homes after the explosion, which happened about 2 a.m. Thursday. The newspaper said three homes, two barns and as many as six vehicles caught fire after the blast.

Adair County Emergency Management Agency director Greg Thomas told the Courier-Journal that investigators and Columbia Gulf Transmission were trying to determine what caused the 30-inch natural gas line, buried 30 feet down in the side of the hill, to explode.

"There is now a crater 60 feet deep and it blew rocks out, and I don't mean pebbles ... big rocks," Thomas said of the explosion.

Columbia Gulf Transmission, part of the Columbia Pipeline Group, told the Courier-Journal that the gas line transports natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico to New York and was not connected to homes. The newspaper said another section of the pipeline cracked in 2012 in Estill County, Ky., shooting flames into the air and forcing authorities to evacuate about 30 families.

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