Feb 13, 2014 12:02 PM
An underground gas line exploded in Adair County early Thursday morning, injuring at least 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 say two people were reportedly hurt, two homes caught fire and another was damaged. One person was hospitalized with burns and another was taken to the hospital for evaluation, county officials said.
The explosion happened in a hillside about 100 feet off the road and left a crater 60 feet around, Adair County Emergency Management Director Greg Thomas said.
Two barns and four to five vehicles also caught fire after the explosion.
WAVE 3 reports Adair County Judge Executive Ann Melton ordered the town of about 150 people evacuated.
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. And Kentucky Emergency Management Agency officials said crews shut off the gas line at both ends to allow the fire to burn out.
Officials say they don't know what sparked the blast.
School officials in Adair County had to re-route school buses Thursday morning away from damaged roadways.
"But then my next concern was how we are going to handle schools when those buses roll in in about two and a half hours," said Adair County superintendent Alan Reed.
Superintendent Reed said that even though no students were hurt, there will be counselors on hand for distressed students. He said many have been emotionally affected and expects some who miss school to be given an excused absence.
The pipeline, which was about 20 feet underground, is owned by Columbia Gulf Transmission, officials said.
Columbia Gulf said in a statement that gas flow to the damaged pipeline has been stopped and trained crews have been sent to the scene to work with emergency responders to secure the scene and help ensure the safety of people in the surrounding area.
"We don't yet know the cause, but will be working with the appropriate authorities to conduct a thorough and complete investigation," the statement said.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.)