Residents React to Hughesville Natural Gas Pipe Explosion
PETTIS COUNTY - The pipeline that ruptured and exploded in Pettis County early Friday morning is managed by Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company and is located one and a half miles northeast of Hughesville on a cattle farm.
Seven buildings caught fire, and the farm owner's brother-in-law told KOMU 8 News there were no cattle inside. Hay stacks and hog pens ignited and were on fire for several hours.
The initial explosion around midnight caught a lot of people's attention, including in Sedalia. Many people we talked to described hearing a loud roar and their homes shook like they were in an earthquake. They also saw huge flames shoot into the air.
Pettis County sheriff's deputies initially evacuated people in a three mile radius. Then they cut that area down to just a half mile around the fire site. Crews shut off the gas in nearby locaitons. It took about two hours for the gas to burn off and for a lot of people it was a very scary morning.
KOMU 8 News has learned that this explosion is not the first Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Company experienced with its pipeline in west central Missouri.
According to a federal pipeline failure report, the Houstonia 200 underground pipeline in Cooper County, East of Pettis County, reptured in 2008. There was no fire or explosion that time, and inspectors blamed the rupture on external corrosion. The report states the cost in total damages was more than $1 million.
Then in 2009, a massive explosion on the pipeline took place near the Boone County and Howard County line. Fire erupted many feet into the air, with the light and sound witnessed for miles. Just like at that explosion, residents Friday say they had never seen or heard anything like this.
"The windows were completely orange from the fire. I can stand right here on my porch or in my utility room, and look right out the window, look right over there and I can see the fire. It looks like it was a hundred foot in diameter and 6, 700 foot tall," said Hughesville resident Wayne McMullin.
"It was like 12 or 13 miles out. From where I live, you can just hear it. It was like a roaring sound," said Sedalia resident Reggie Townsend.
A spokepearson for the Panhandle Pipe Company said the actual gas fire took about two hours to burn itself out. The investigation is underway to find both the cause and amount of damage.