Two people were injured and another is still missing after a natural gas pipeline in Louisiana exploded, setting off a massive ‘blow torch’ blaze that continues to burn.
Six employees were cleaning a pipeline at the Paradis Pipeline Station on Thursday night when witnesses nearby heard a loud explosion, according to St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne.
It remains unclear whether a valve or gasket failed, and dozens of families have been evacuated from their homes because the raging fire may still burn for several days.
Two people were injured and another is still missing after a natural gas pipeline in Louisiana exploded
The resulting fire reached 30 to 40 feet in the air, which the local sheriff described as a ‘big blow torch’ that might take days to burn out
The resulting fire shot up and reached 30 to 40 feet in the air, which Champagne described as a ‘big blow torch’ that might take days to burn out.
Two of the contract workers were taken to St. Anne Hospital in Raceland, and one of the victims was later flown to a burn unit in Baton Rouge, according to Champagne.
The three others were treated at the scene with minor injuries.
A helicopter was being brought in Friday to help search for the unaccounted worker, who is an employee at Phillips 66, the sheriff said.
The cause of the explosion is still under investigation, and Champagne cited a possible gasket or valve failure.
Local and state emergency agencies are at the scene, and the pipeline has been turned off as officials wait for the remaining gas to burn off.
Two of the pipeline workers were hospitalized, and another is still missing. A helicopter is being brought in on Friday to help in the search (pictured, firefighters on Thursday)
Sixty homes were evacuated and highways were being diverted around Paradis, about 30 miles west of New Orleans (pictured, Sheriff Greg Champagne at a news conference)
‘The pipeline has been blocked in and the remaining product in the line continues to burn,’ according to the pipeline operators Phillips 66.
‘Our first priority is ensuring the safety of our workers, responders and the community,’ they said in a statement.
The pipeline carries raw natural gas liquids and extends from Venice to Paradis, Louisiana, the company said in the statement.
Sixty homes were evacuated and highways were being diverted around the area in Paradis, which is about 30 miles west of New Orleans.
People living west of Highway 635 were allowed to return home late Thursday, while others took shelter at the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center.