By Heide Brandes
OKLAHOMA CITY Oct 9 A natural gas pipeline fire
in rural northwest Oklahoma was extinguished on Wednesday
morning with no injuries reported, and the company that owns it,
Northern Natural Gas, is working to determine the cause of the
blast, a company spokesman said.
The fire occurred at 11 p.m. CST on Tuesday (0400 GMT
Wednesday) in a remote and rural area in Oklahoma's panhandle,
and could be seen up to 50 miles away, according to local media
reports. No injuries were reported.
About "a half dozen" area volunteer fire departments
responded to Tuesday night's blaze, said Mike Loeffler,
spokesman for Northern Natural Gas.
The incident will not disrupt any service to the company's
market area, he said. The affected section of the pipe was
isolated and the remaining gas emptied from that portion of the
line, he said.
"For safety reasons, we monitored the line last night and
approached the pipeline this morning when it was under control,"
Loeffler said, adding that the investigation could take up to
several weeks. "After all the information is gathered, we will
start repairs, but there will be absolutely no disruption to
Property damage was limited to the pipeline itself. Northern
Natural Gas instituted a gas management plan as soon as the fire
occurred on Tuesday night to reroute natural gas to other
pipelines, Loeffler said.
Northern Natural Gas pipeline in Harper County, Oklahoma, is
a trunk pipeline that supplies gas to the company's market areas
north of Kansas to states such as Nebraska, Iowa and Michigan,
Harper County is about three hours northwest of Oklahoma
City. The Harper County Sheriff's Department could not be
reached for comment.
Although the cause is still being investigated, Loeffler
said a typical cause of pipeline failure is third party damage,
usually due to excavation near the pipeline by a company that
failed to inquire in advance whee it might hit a pipeline.
Northern Natural Gas utilizes an 8-1-1 number that companies
and individuals must call before undergoing excavation in the
area to avoid hitting existing pipelines.
Omaha, Nebraska-based Northern Natural Gas operates nearly
15,000 miles of natural gas pipelines in the United States,
including interstate lines that runs from the Permian Basin in
Texas to the Upper Midwest.
Northern Natural Gas is a unit of MidAmerican Energy
Holdings Co, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.