A massive explosion of a 10-inch Chevron natural gas pipeline near a drilling rig in Milford, Texas, led the company to ask law enforcement to evacuate the entire town on Thursday. Milford, in rural Ellis County, is about halfway between Dallas and Waco. The cause is still unknown, and the fire is expected to rage for another day.
At 9:30 a.m. CST, huge gouts of flame shot into the air at a what appeared to be a drilling rig, according to local affiliate FOX 4. Black smoke was visible for at least 20 miles around. Some vehicles at the worksite appeared to be seriously damaged. No injuries have been reported so far.
Chevron’s statement simply describes an “incident at a Chevron pipeline” and offered no further details.
This shot, courtesy of local affiliate NBCDFW from a helicopter feed 5 miles away from Milford, shows the black cloud blotting out the sky:
Ellis County officials also asked people on FM 308 from Milford back toward Italy and Maypearl to leave because a second line was reportedly in danger of another explosion. Chevron is expected to let the highly-pressurized gas leak out through the inferno until there is no more gas left in the pipeline segment.
Students and school staff were evacuated to the neighboring town of Italy. Nearby residents with respiratory issues were advised to remain indoors. Firefighters were available from nearby cities but there were no firefighters on the scene as of noon local time.
Texas has over 43,000 intrastate natural gas pipelines — more than any other state.
Earlier this year, Chevron CEO John Watson explained how his company just had a responsibility to “deliver our energy in an environmentally sound fashion.” Asked if fossil fuel companies bear the responsibility of curbing carbon emissions, he punted: “Our leaders have to make a decision. Do they want that to continue or do they have a better solution for us? So it’s not my call.”