West Virginia Explosion: Watch Video Of Gas Line Flames Destroying Highway [VIDEO]

By Staff Reporter on December 12, 2012 10:52 AM EST

west virginia pipeline explosion
West Virginia natural gas pipeline explosion torched a main highway and several homes and buildings. No fatalities were reported. (Photo: YouTube)

A natural gas pipeline explosion created an incredible inferno that destroyed four homes and extensively damaged multiple buildings near Charleston, West Virginia, on Tuesday.

The massive midday burst originated just 10 miles north of Charleston in the town of Sissonville. The 20-inch pipeline in question is the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline operated by the NiSource energy company.

The gas line sent flames that shot as high as 50 to 75 feet and even caused several of the surrounding homes and buildings to catch fire. Four homes were completely destroyed by the fire while another five suffered extensive exterior damage.

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Speaking with Reuters, Virginia State Police Sergeant Chris Zerkle said, "Right now we have substantial damage done to several residences and buildings. They were substantially damaged beyond recognition."

Governor Earl Ray Tomlin visited the site of the explosion and said during an interview with Sky News, "We've been very fortunate." Of the houses completely consumed by the fire, Tomblin said, "They were just lucky enough not to be home." Most residents had already left home for work when the explosion occurred at approximately 1 p.m.

What's more, the explosion also torched 800 feet of Interstate 77 so severely that the state has decided to close down traffic on both sides indefinitely. Zerkle described the fire "basically melted the blacktop completely off it."

Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department training officer Tom Miller was stunned, "Four lanes are gone. We were very lucky - no rush-hour traffic."

Thankfully, no fatalities have been reported but several Sissonville residents had to be brought to the hospital for smoke inhalation treatment.

First responders acted quickly to shut off the gas flow but pressure in the transmission line remained, said State Police First Sgt. James Lee.

Kanawha County Commission president Kent Carper was also present at the scene and described the fire. "It sounded like a Boeing 757. Just a roar. It was huge. You just couldn't hear anything. It was like a space flight."

Both federal and state investigators are currently working to understand the cause of the explosion. Working with the authorities, NiSource spokesperson Mike Banas says the company is gathering all the facts.

Witness the power of the powerful gas line explosion in the video below as the natural gas feed a massive fire across Interstate 77:

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