Major Gas Line Explosion along I-77

I-77 Sissonville gas line explosion

On Tuesday, December 11, 2012 a major gas line explosion along I-77 near Sissonville, WV ignited homes in a nearby residential area and shut down all four lanes of traffic.  The flames were so hot under I-77 that it melted the concrete. There have been no reported fatalities.  Thanks to the DOT employees who worked all night,  Interstate 77 has been reopened.  Flames were shooting up to 75 high as crews shut off the gas supply.  Commissioner Kent Carper reports fire was extinguished shortly before 2:00 p.m., but heavy odor of gas is thick in the air near the area of the explosion.

Columbia Gas confirmed that one of its transmission lines was the source of the blast. Columbia Gas employees and first responders are working to assess the situation and accommodate the residents. Columbia Gas is still working to determine the cause of the explosion.

Patients in a nearby nursing home not far from the area have been declared to be safe, but it is not known if anyone has been injured by the explosion. Authorities were worried about the possibility of another explosion, and were evacuating nearby residents.

“In all my years of experience, this is the biggest fire I’ve ever seen,” said Kanawha County Fire Coordinator C.W. Sigman.

Sigman said a 20-inch gas transmission line ruptured, sending a massive sheet of flames shooting skyward.

Sigman said several homes were burned, but emergency officials were still trying to determine if there were any injuries or fatalities. Emergency crews rescued several people who sought shelter behind the burning homes, he said.  A total of four homes were destroyed and five more were damaged by the blaze.

Sigman said the flames were so hot under I-77 that it melted the concrete. Guardrails melted, utility poles burned, an ordinarily reflective green interstate sign was burned down to white metal and the blast blew a huge hole in the road, throwing dirt, rocks and debris across the interstate. Four lanes are gone.  It was remarkable that no motorists were injured.

The explosion happened just before 1 p.m., and the immediate fire reportedly crossed the interstate itself. A photo taken by Kanawha County Emergency Services shows stories-tall flames covering both northbound and southbound lanes of the interstate.

Metro 911 reported several buildings caught fire. Crews apparently extinguished the fire just before 2 p.m. but a large amount of fumes remained in the air, said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.

State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous said around 2:45 p.m. that there was no word on injuries or fatalities related to the explosion and following fire. Paramedics and emergency responders are going into homes and apartments now to check on residents, he said.

Emergency responders’ biggest concern is the possibility of a secondary explosion. Residents living in the vicinity are being asked to ready their things to evacuate.

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. – A gas line explosion this afternoon in Sissonville caused a massive fire that burned several buildings, melted part of Interstate 77 and sent huge flames into the sky.

Authorities were worried about the possibility of another explosion, and were evacuating nearby residents.

“In all my years of experience, this is the biggest fire I’ve ever seen,” said Kanawha County Fire Coordinator C.W. Sigman.

Sigman said a 20-inch gas transmission line ruptured, sending a massive sheet of flames shooting skyward.

Sigman said several homes were burned, but emergency officials were still trying to determine if there were any injuries or fatalities. Emergency crews rescued several people who sought shelter behind the burning homes, he said.

Sigman said The explosion happened just before 1 p.m., and the immediate fire reportedly crossed the interstate itself. A photo taken by Kanawha County Emergency Services shows stories-tall flames covering both northbound and southbound lanes of the interstate.

Metro 911 reported several buildings caught fire. Crews apparently extinguished the fire just before 2 p.m. but a large amount of fumes remained in the air, said Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper.

State Police Sgt. Michael Baylous said around 2:45 p.m. that there was no word on injuries or fatalities related to the explosion and following fire. Paramedics and emergency responders are going into homes and apartments now to check on residents, he said.

Emergency responders’ biggest concern is the possibility of a secondary explosion. Residents living in the vicinity are being asked to ready their things to evacuate.

Baylous did not know the exact location where the explosion occurred but it’s near where Derricks Creek Road meets W.Va. 21, he said.

Two KRT buses were at Sissonville High School ready to evacuate people at 3 p.m. Several other buses were on standby.

Several people were transported from the scene for smoke inhalation-related injuries, Metro 911 dispatchers said. Some were being treated at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Sissonville, where an emergency shelter was in established.

Gas company crews were working to turn gas pipelines off, according to Kanawha County Emergency Management officials. Gas crews had shut off one side of the gas pipe by 1:30 p.m.

Residents in the area were asked to shelter in place, according to Kanawha County Metro 911.

Kanawha County Schools sent out an automatic notification that students and others at Flinn Elementary, Sissonville Elementary, Sissonville Middle and Sissonville High schools will shelter in place until roads reopen. Once the roads have reopened, the students will be taken home, according to the message.

Students at Sissonville High School were sheltering in the gym just before 3 p.m.

W.Va. 21 was closed except for emergency vehicle traffic.

Source:  WV Charleston Gazette

Submitted by the Robinette Legal Group, PLLC, West Virginia Workplace Injury/Wrongful Death Lawyers. Free books — Call us today: 304-216-6695 or 304-594-1800 for your free copy of Righting the Wrong: WV Serious Injury Guide; Collision Care: WV Auto Injury Guide; or Beside Still Waters: WV Fatal Injury Guide for Families.

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