A Texas natural gas pipeline explosion southwest of Houston forced an evacuation, according to authorities. The explosion itself involved what is known as a natural gas transmission line and occurred in a rural area. The blast occurred in the morning hours in Fort Bend County. The nearest community to the blast is Wallis, Texas.
The blast resulted in a fire that took firefighters about half a day to contain. There was initially concern that the blast would trigger a large-scale fire that would spread quickly across the rural landscape.
The Texas natural gas pipeline explosion did not appear to have caused any injuries. In addition, no structures sustained damage as a result of the blast.
Residents in the area near the location of the blast indicated that they heard what they described as a “loud pop” when the explosion occurred. Fire could be seen arising from the scene of the Texas natural gas pipeline explosion for some distance away from the blast zone.
In the direct aftermath of the blast, authorities called for an evacuation of the area in the vicinity of the explosion. The evacuation was undertaken over a number of concerns:
Authorities had not yet been able to analyze the content of the smoke plume emitted from the blast area. Time and again these explosion-related smoke plumes can contain harmful substances which can present a danger to the public.
Authorities did not immediately know if any additional explosions would occur in the vicinity of the blast.
A focus of the evacuation was the nearby community of Wallis. The evacuation was concluded within a relatively short period of time following the explosion. Officials were able to determine rather quickly that the smoke plume emitting from the explosion did not appear to contain a level of toxins sufficient to endanger anybody near the scene of the blast and fire. Moreover, as was noted, the fire itself was extinguished rather rapidly by area firefighters.
The operator of the natural gas transmission pipeline is a company called Energy Transfer. The company did issue a statement following the Texas natural gas pipeline explosion that read in part: “Our control center immediately shut in the line and the area was secured.”
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has been monitoring the situation. The Commission has noted that Energy Transfer has reported that a release of natural gas did occur from the pipeline.
The cause of this Texas gas natural gas pipeline explosion will be investigated by a Lone Star State agency. The Railroad Commission of Texas regulates oil and gas pipelines in the state. The Commission will be the lead investigator into the incident. The Commission announced within 24 hours of the explosion that it had already commenced its investigation into the cause of the blast.
Energy Transfer itself has not indicated how it believes the transmission pipeline explosion occurred. According to representatives of the company, Energy Transfer is launching its own investigation into the incident. The company has offered no time frame within which it will be reporting more information about the explosion.