Early-morning pipeline explosion lights up South Texas sky

AP News
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Posted: Feb 15, 2017 10:33 AM

REFUGIO, Texas (AP) — A natural gas pipeline ruptured early Wednesday in South Texas, causing an explosion that shook homes miles away and a fireball that lit up the night sky.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Nathan Brandley said the explosion occurred shortly after midnight near Refugio (ray-FYOO'-ee-oh), a rural community about 15 miles from the Texas coast and north of Corpus Christi.

No one was hurt, Brandley said, and there are no refineries or plants nearby.

The line is owned by Houston-based pipeline operator Kinder Morgan, which said in a statement that the fire was extinguished and that the company is trying to determine the impact to customers. Company personnel are investigating what caused the rupture, the statement said.

Refugio County Sheriff Raul "Pinky" Gonzales said there's not expected to be any environmental damage from the rupture because the gas burned off as it spewed from the pipe.

"They shut the valves and bled out the line," he said.

Mishaps with transmission lines are not uncommon. In the past two decades, the U.S. government has recorded more than 2,000 accidents on gas transmission lines across the country.