1 killed, 5 injured in massive Kentucky gas line explosion

Cause of blast unknown; residents of nearby mobile homes evacuated
Posted at 5:50 AM, Aug 01, 2019

LINCOLN COUNTY, Ky. — One person was killed and five others were injured early Thursday morning in a thunderous gas explosion that sent flames hundreds of feet into the air and sparked an evacuation of nearby residents.

Officials said the gas line exploded about 1:20 a.m. local time in Moreland, Kentucky near the Boyle and Lincoln county line.

Lincoln County Coroner Farris Marcum confirmed that one person was killed. The cause of death and the victim's identity were not immediately disclosed.

Officials say that five others were injured.

Emergency officials said the cause of the explosion is under investigation. The blast caused six structures to catch fire, officials said. It also damaged train tracks that run through the area, officials said, and Norfolk Southern had dozens of railcars backed up awaiting a workaround or fix.

Portions of U.S. Highway 127 remained closed to traffic Thursday morning, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials said.

The intensity and scale of the fireball shocked local residents.

"Got into my truck, was going up to my girlfriend's house and seen what looked like an atomic bomb going off, basically," Jerry Sinkhorn said. "Seen a big cloud of dust go up and could hear the thrust off of it. I knew what it was. It was a gas line, 'cause I've heard when the last one went off up there at the gas plant."

Officials evacuated about 75 people from the nearby Indian Camp mobile home park.

"It woke us up and it was just a big roar and it was fire going up into the sky as far as you could see," Sue Routin said. "Our windows were shaking really bad, and our doors and the ground, you could hear the ground just moving and tumbling and rolling. And then we got to feeling the heat from the fire, so we got in our vehicle and took off to get away from it."

"We thought, he actually thought it could've been an airplane crash, because the rolling was really loud and it was just so bright it lit up the whole, it lit up everything around us."

Lincoln County Emergency Management officials said a shelter was being opened at New Hope Baptist Church on Kentucky Highway 1194 in Stanford.

Smoke from the blaze could be seen as far as Louisville.

Officials said the gas line -- owned by Enbridge as part of the Texas Eastern Transmission Pipeline -- had been shut off.

This story was originally published by David Nichols on WLEX in Lexington, Kentucky.