Grady County_Three homes were destroyed, and two people injured after a massive natural gas explosion early Friday morning in Grady County which created a 30-foot wide crater in the ground. Fire officials say the blast happened at about 3:30 a.m. near Alex, Oklahoma, when a gas line ruptured. A mobile home only 80 feet away from the line was obliterated by the blast, but it was the intense heat that wiped out two other nearby homes. Investigators say that the injured were inside the mobile home when the rupture occured. One woman is reportedly in good condition, but the condition of the man who was hurt is unknown.
Photographs taken from the sky are the best indicator of what first responders encountered. They already knew it was bad from a distance. "I walked out of the house this morning when I received the page - I could see it from my house," said Grady County Fire Chief Berry Wenzell. He lives 20 miles from Alex, and says he could believe what he saw when he arrived. "It was just a huge massive fireball," he said. "The sound was unreal."
On arrival, Chief Wenzell's first concern was to locate people from three nearby homes. Fortunately, he says, they all got out on their own. He says the initial explosion was only part of the problem. "Everything ignited from the heat, even the high line poles on the south side of the road ignited from the heat off that," he said. "The other house across the road ignited from the heat."
The gas line is owned by a subsidiary of Oklahoma Gas & Electric (OG&E), and runs from a well head sight in Thomas, to a production plant in Cox City. A spokesman says the company had noticed a pressure drop in the line at about 3 a.m., so they manually closed it. Then, they got the worst news - the line had ruptured. "We know there's approximately a 16-foot section of line that was lost," said OG&E spokesman Brian Alford. "We do not have any cause at this particular point." Wenzell says he'd ever seen anything like it. "This is nothing like I've seen before - I've been in the fire service for 21 years now."
OG&E says this particular line was just inspected last year. Oklahoma Corporation Commission Inspectors were on the scene throughout the day to assist with the investigation. The woman who was injured in the blast has been identified as Mildred Hull. She is reportedly in good condition despite suffering second and third-degree burns to about 17% of her body.Count on 7News to keep you updated.
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