Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. natural gas pipeline company NiSource Inc said it was investigating an explosion on its key Columbia Gulf Transmission interstate natural gas pipeline in Adair County, Kentucky that injured at least one person.
The blast early Thursday morning engulfed and destroyed homes and cars, authorities said.
The explosion and fire in Knifley, Kentucky, about 90 miles (145 km) south of Louisville, could be seen “just as plain as day” from Columbia, about 12 miles from the blaze, a local police officer said.
Katherine Dupuis, a spokeswoman for NiSource, said the company was investigating the incident and would provide more details later. She could not say if the pipeline was still operating.
Adair County Emergency Management Director Greg Thomas said he believed the gas on that section of the pipeline was turned off.
Columbia Gulf Transmission consists of approximately 3,400 miles of pipeline and 11 compressor stations with nearly half-a-million horsepower, located primarily in Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee and Kentucky, according to the company website.
The Columbia system is interconnected to virtually every major pipeline system operating in the Gulf Coast and interconnects with pipelines serving markets in the Midwest, Southeast and Northeast.
Police were notified of an explosion at about 1 a.m. local time (0700 GMT) on Thursday, Thomas, the Adair County official, said.
The explosion spawned multiple woodland and structural fires, Thomas said. Three homes were set ablaze, two of them were fully destroyed, as well as two barns and four cars.
The one injured person was sent to an area hospital but the extent of injuries was not known, Thomas said.
The fires had largely been contained and were being allowed to burn out, Thomas said.
Columbia Gulf is part of NiSource’s Columbia Pipeline Group, which owns and operates more than 15,700 miles of natural gas pipelines serving customers in more than 16 states and one of the largest underground storage systems in North America.
Approximately 1.3 trillion cubic feet of natural gas flows the Columbia Pipeline systems each year, according to the company’s website.