Covering Kentucky

Feb 13, 2014 6:27 PM

Adair County In State Of Emergency After Gas Pipeline Explosion

A southern Kentucky county is in a state of emergency after a natural gas line explosion evacuated the entire town.

An underground gas line exploded in Adair County early Thursday morning, injuring two people and setting two homes on fire.

People as far away as Lincoln County heard the blast in the Knifley community, about 15 miles south of Campbellsville, at around 2 a.m. Kentucky State Police said the two people who were reportedly hurt have been released from the hospital and are expected to be OK.

Two homes caught fire and another was damaged. Two barns and four to five vehicles also caught fire after the explosion.

The evacuation order was lifted around noon, but it could be a while before the road is reopened and power is restored.

School officials in Adair County had to re-route school buses Thursday morning away from damaged roadways.

The explosion happened in a hillside about 100 feet off the road and left a crater the size of half a football field. The next step now is to fix the line and fill in a gaping hole left behind.

20-year fire veteran Cecil Pearson heard the blast and his instincts kicked in; he was the first on scene and couldn't believe his eyes.

"I don't know how they got out. To be honest with you, I don't have a clue," Pearson said. "It's nothing short of a miracle that they did."

Officials said the two burning houses were in the same area, but not next door to each other. They said crews had a hard time getting to the damaged homes due to downed power lines and debris blocking the road. They say firefighters had the fire under control the entire time. And Kentucky Emergency Management Agency officials said crews shut off the gas line at both ends to allow the fire to burn out. By the time the fire was out, it took crews even longer to haul away the rubble.

"We're still in shock," said Greg Thomas with Emergency management. "Everybody I've spoken to can't believe it happened."

Columbia Gas Company says it is investigating how this happened but adds it is working with the families and taking care of those affected.

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