Authorities evacuated a town of approximately 10,600 people after the explosion of a nearby gas pipeline.
Residents within a 4-mile radius from the gas line were evacuated due to safety concerns.
The explosion occurred near Middleton, Idaho, after a worker ruptured a 22-inch (56-centimeter) natural gas pipeline using an excavator, the Associated Press reports.
Traffic alert: A major gas leak in the Middleton area has led to the closure of Idaho 44 just west of Star, so we are asking motorists to please avoid the area.
— Ada County Sheriff (@AdaCoSheriff) October 12, 2023
“The excavator driver was taken to a hospital with minor injuries,” the outlet added.
“Multiple witnesses are reporting loud rumbling noises that sound like a fighter jet, with others reporting felt the loud explosion miles away,” Raws Alerts noted.
🚨#BREAKING: Massive Gas Line Explosion Prompts Evacuation order of Over 9,000 Residents Within 4-Mile Radius
Currently Numerous emergency personnel and other authorities are on the scene of a massive gas line explosion in Middletown, Idaho. Emergency… pic.twitter.com/yKvS35RTmD
— R A W S A L E R T S (@rawsalerts) October 12, 2023
The Associated Press reports:
The ruptured line is part of an interstate pipeline that carries natural gas through several states in the northwestern U.S. owned by the Williams Companies, a natural gas distributor. The pipeline had about 750 pounds of pressure per square inch (53 kilograms per square centimeter), so authorities evacuated an area of about 4 square miles (10.4 square kilometers) surrounding the break, Hart said, including the entire town of Middleton.
In an emailed statement, the Williams Companies disputed the local officials’ characterization of what happened and said workers “implemented shutdown procedures” and coordinated with first responders.
“There was no ignition, fire, or explosion associated with this incident and the cause is under investigation,” the company said.
Within minutes of the incident, area residents began posting on social media that they had heard an explosion and continuing noise. Some described it like the sound of low-flying jets.
“It was a pretty substantial explosion just due to the pressure in that line,” said Chief David Jones of the Middleton Fire Department Battalion. “The explosion was felt, and the gas flow could be felt about a mile away.”
NEW: Middleton Idaho: A gas line explosion near the intersection of Purple Sage Road and Duff Lane in Middleton prompted evacuations Thursday morning.
The Canyon County Sheriff's Office is asking anyone within a four-mile radius of the intersection to shelter in place. Those in… pic.twitter.com/Fgf4vh8rIJ
— Anny (@anny25717503) October 12, 2023
Idaho Press added:
The 4-mile radius contained “essentially the entirety of Middleton,” Hart said.
After the gas valve was shut off, restrictions began lifting, and people were asked to shelter in place.
Restrictions have since been fully lifted and police have opened access to northbound roads. Jones said gas service was not interrupted for those in the area.
While the Canyon County Highway District was doing construction nearby on the road, Director Bruce Bayne clarified that his team was not involved in the explosion. The excavator involved was digging in a dirt field.Advertisement
At the time of the explosion, Sam Kimball was out on a job for Treasure Valley Home Inspectors when he felt a rumble.
“All of a sudden we heard a really loud bang,” Kimball said.
Kimball was about half a mile away from the explosion.
“We saw all the dirt in the air,” he said.
After the initial loud bang, Kimball could hear an ongoing roar for about 30 minutes. He compared the noise to an airplane.
It wasn’t until the noise stopped that Kimball got an emergency notification to evacuate the area.
KTVB aired this video report: