Sept. 10–CENTER TWP. — Interstate 376 and Brodhead Road are reopened after an early morning gas line explosion destroyed a house, barn and several vehicles.
The explosion occurred around 5 a.m. Monday near Ivy Lane in Center Township. Police Chief Barry Kramer said the cause of the explosion is not yet known, but is being investigated by the Public Utilities Commission.
No one was injured by the explosion, Kramer said.
The pipeline is owned by Energy Transfer Partners. The 24-inch line was put into service Sept. 3 and runs from northern Butler County to Bulger, Pa. It was buried about 3 feet underground, Kramer said.
Residents within a half-mile radius of the explosion were evacuated to the Center Township Fire Department and were being assisted by the American Red Cross.
Everyone except residents who live on Ivy Lane and Pine Street were allowed to return to their homes about 11:15 a.m., Beaver County Emergency Services announced.
Tom Demarco, who lives on Ivy Lane, said his house was shaking and he could see the orange glow through his bedroom window shades after the explosion woke him and his wife.
It was his next-door neighbor’s house that was damaged in the explosion.
“Horror. I thought my neighbors were going to die,” he said. “It was total chaos.”
Kramer said crews also rescued some horses from near the explosion. Demarco said his neighbors also had some dogs in the house that was destroyed, although he’s not sure if they all got out safely.
Interstate 376 was closed in both directions between the Center Township exit and the Aliquippa exit through the morning, but reopened just before noon.
Kramer said about 1,500 people in the Center and Aliquippa areas are without power after six high-tension power line towers collapsed this morning, possibly due to the fire. There was no word yet on when power would be restored.
The gas line had an automated system that shut gas off after the explosion before crews arrived on scene, officials said. Once the gas was turned off, the fire burned out by 7 a.m.
The pipeline company set up a hotline for people who have questions or have had property damage related to the explosion. They are to call 1-800-445-5846.
Central Valley School District canceled school for the day. Motorists are asked to avoid the area.
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