Apparent gas line explosion lights up Estill sky

Gas transmission line blamed

kward1@herald-leader.comJanuary 3, 2012 

A gas line explosion lit up the sky in Estill County on Monday night.

The blast occurred about 7 p.m. along Ky. 89 about 7 miles outside of Irvine, Estill County Judge-Executive Wallace Taylor said.

There were no initial reports of injuries, but 30 to 35 homes within a half-mile radius of the explosion were evacuated, said Melissa Jessie, public information officer for the Estill County Emergency Management Agency.

Firefighters worked to contain the flames until the gas was shut off.

"A lot of woods are on fire right now," Jessie said about 9 p.m.

By about 10:30 p.m., the gas had been shut off, and Jessie said emergency workers were "just waiting for it to burn itself off."

It was unclear what caused the explosion.

Lisa Smith, spokeswoman for Columbia Gas of Kentucky, said the transmission line belonged to Columbia Gulf Transmission. Both are owned by NiSource Inc.

Columbia Gas sent workers to help at the scene at the request of Estill County officials.

Jessie said Ky. 89 had been shut down at the junction with Ky. 82.

Pam Brandenburg, who owns a small grocery store on South Irvine Road, said she heard the "rumble" of the explosion, then saw the results.

"The whole sky's lit up," she said just after 7 p.m.

People in Madison County posted photographs on Facebook showing a bright orange glow in the sky.

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