Black Smoke Friday: Missouri Gas Pipeline Explosion Causes 300-Foot Fireball

CREDIT: Marcia Withers

A fireball is seen from a pipeline explosion in Missouri early Friday morning.

A 30-inch gas gas pipeline in a rural area of western Missouri ruptured and exploded early Friday morning and sent a 300 foot high fireball into the air, Fox 4 news reports.

NBC station KOMU reported that the glow from the burning Panhandle Eastern Pipeline could be seen for miles. There were no injuries or fatalities, but three homes within a half-mile of the blast were evacuated. The blaze took more than two hours to extinguish and by mid-morning on Friday the residents had been allowed back in, according to Fox.

Local news reports said that by morning, a “smoldering moon-like crater” could be seen at the site of the explosion. The flames also destroyed seven buildings on a nearby hog farm. One commenter on KOMU’s report said the fire “lit up the whole area like it was daytime.” Some residents reported their homes were shaking.

The explosion can be seen here courtesy of YouTube user John Pahlow:

This is not the first time an explosion has occurred on this pipeline. According to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the same line ruptured on August 25, 2008, causing an explosion and a 7-feet deep crater, about 50 feet wide. The accident caused about $1 million in damage.

The cause of Friday’s rupture and subsequent explosion is not yet known, but Panhandle Eastern Pipe Line Co., the company that owns the pipeline, and federal and state regulatory agencies will conduct an investigation.

Though a 30-inch diameter pipeline may not sound very big, it is actually comparatively large for pipelines. It’s important to note that sizable explosions can come from seemingly small pipelines as well — earlier this month, a 10-inch Chevron natural gas pipeline exploded near a drilling rig in Milford, Texas, leading the company to ask law enforcement to evacuate the entire town.