Town Shaken by Pipeline Explosion

Friday, November 14th 2008, 6:51 pm
By: News 9

By Amy Lester, NEWS 9

ALEX, Okla. -- Three families are homeless after a major explosion that caused a significant crater in the ground. It happened after a natural gas pipeline ruptured near the town of Alex.

Grady County Fire
This was a very strong explosion with a lot of force. People felt the impact as far as 10 miles away.

"It sounded like an airplane coming in over the house, like a big jet," Alex resident Barbara Beasley said.

When Beasley grabbed her camera and headed out at about 3 a.m., she discovered not a plane, but a massive fire.

"It's just amazing how much gas was going, was escaping from it," Beasley said.

A natural gas pipeline ruptured, four feet underground, creating a 30-foot-wide crater spewing out gas and igniting a large fire. Three homes burned to the ground.

Find hidden pipelinesThe pipeline is operated by Enogex, a subsidiary of Oklahoma Gas & Electric's parent company. It transports raw natural gas 80 miles across Oklahoma to a processing facility.

"We actually send a device through the pipeline that looks for flaws, cracks, structural integrity issues that might cause a problem," Brian Alford with OG&E said.

Enogex will analyze part of the pipeline, looking for flaws that could have caused the pipe to rupture.

"We do not have any cause at this point," Alford said. "We'll be doing some significant testing and investigation over the next several days, weeks."

For those who saw the fury, they'll never forget it.

"I'm just so glad everyone's okay," Beasley said.

One person is still in the hospital in good condition. As for why this happened, the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Pipeline Safety is handling the investigation.

The pipeline was installed in 1975 and that this is the first time anything like this has ever happened.