A natural gas pipeline exploded near Fresno, California, at a sheriff’s gun range while construction was underway at a sheriff’s gun range. The explosion left 11 people injured, including several county jail inmates doing cleanup work on the highway nearby. It is believed that a piece of heavy equipment hit a pipe carrying natural gas, causing the explosion.
KCRA reports that a large section of Highway 99 was shut down following the explosion but was reopened several hours later after the blast was under control. The Fresno Fire Department says that they are investigating what exactly caused the blast and have secured the area. However, reports indicate that the work crew were using heavy equipment in the area when the explosion occurred. The natural gas pipelines were not marked, as Pacific Gas & Electric Co says they were not notified of work taking place in the area.
Yahoo! News notes that the crew was working to build a dirt berm to confine gunfire to the range which required the use of a front-end loader. It is believed that the front-end loader hit the natural gas pipeline, causing the massive explosion. PG&E says that when work is being performed in areas of natural gas pipelines, the company will come out and mark the pipes to ensure accidents like this do not happen. However, advance notice of work was not given at the gun range.
In the video, you can watch as the flames shoot high into the area after the initial explosion. Witnesses say the flames were shooting up to 200 feet in the air and that the fireball was 10 or 15 feet in diameter.
In total, 11 people were injured but all have now been released from hospital care.