Beaumont, KY Gas Line Explosion, Apr 1985

GAS LINE EXPLOSION RIPS KENTUCKY TOWN.

Beaumont, Ky. (AP) -- A natural gas line explosion killed at least five people, gouged a 20 foot deep crater and flattened six buildings in a tiny community, igniting fires that were visible 20 miles away, authorities said.
At least three other people were seriously injured in the weekend blast that ripped up a section of Kentucky's Route 90 and devastated a mile-square area, according to authorities.
Dick Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Disaster and Emergency Services, said two houses, three mobile homes and a sawmill were destroyed in Marrowbone Hill, a settlement about a mile east of Beaumont, whose population is 60. The blast site is 90 miles south of Louisville.
A crater 100 feet long, 30 feet wide and 20 feet deep was left by the blast, which occurred about 9:30 p.m., Brown said.
Fires sparked by the explosion could be seen 20 miles away, officials said.
"It was described to me as resembling where a bomb went off," said Bob Walter, a disaster and emergency services worker. "If you've ever been to Vietnam, that's exactly what it looked like."
Three bodies were found early Sunday, and two more were discovered later in a destroyed house near the scene, officials said.
The victims were identified as:
HAZEL NELL SHELLEY, 69.
Her son, BOBBY MITCHELL SHELLEY, 48.
His wife, ELSIE GAYE SHELLEY, 42.
Their 12-year-old son, ANTHONY.
MARY BUCHANNAN, 56,
The Cumberland County Hospital in nearby Burkesville treated two adults and a child who were injured. They were in serious but stable condition Sunday, a hospital spokesman said.
Brown said about 40 people were evacuated from the area, and a temporary shelter was set up at the Summer Shade rescue squad building. Residents at the outskirts of the blast area were allowed to return home, he said.
The pipeline belonged to Texas Eastern Transmission Corp., and a spokesman who did not identify himself at the company's Edmonton office said gas to the area had been turned off and the fire was out Sunday.
A truck containing dynamite and one holding gasoline inside the blast area, "no longer pose a threat of explosion," he said.
Route 90 was closed to traffic southeast of Glasgow because of the blast damage.
"You just can't describe it," said Joe Adams, a member of the Tompkinsville volunteer fire department that was called to assist. "We're 15 miles away and it's just like it's right here."
Adams said other neighboring fire departments were also called to the mostly rural site of the blast.
The Monroe County medical center called in all its available staff to prepare for any injuries, a spokesman said.
"We can actually hear it roaring," Carlos Tarter, a nurse at the hospital in Tompkinsville, about 20 miles away, said of the fire at its start.
About 300 cars, occupied mainly by the curious, blocked roads leading to the area before police sealed it off to all but emergency personnel.

Pacific Stars and Stripes Japan 1985-04-30

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