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Massive Gas Line Explosion, Fire Prompt Evacuations In Center Twp.

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CENTER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) -- A massive methane gas pipeline explosion rocked Beaver County early Monday, sending a huge fire ball into the sky and prompting the evacuation of more than two dozen homes.

It was just before 5 a.m.

"I heard a gigantic woosh," Gary Siccone, who lives on Ivy Lane, said. "I looked out the bedroom window and it's daylight outside."

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Scott Danka)

Chuck Belczyk lives a few doors away.

"I saw the ball of flames above the trees and it was easily 150 to 200 feet up in the air. It was serious," he said.

WATCH: Beaver County Emergency Officials Hold News Conference --

The Energy Transfer Corp's 24-inch pipeline was pumping out a blowtorch effect for more than an hour. When Center Township Firefighters arrived on Ivy Lane, they headed straight for the fireball.

"They realized when the resident of 752 [the Rosati family] met them coming up the driveway, they knew there was no reason to advance any further and it immediately went to evacuation," CTVFD Chief Bill Brucker said.

(Photo Submitted by KDKA Viewer Dan Millick)

Inside the homes as the people were evacuating, they could feel the heat from the fire, and even 100 yards away, siding on a few homes buckled.

Even before first responders could call the company, sensors had detected the problem and started shutting down the flow of gas. An hour and 15 minutes later, the gas flames were out.

One home was destroyed, but no one was injured. The company took a look at the sight of the rupture and Center Township Police Chief Barry Kramer says it determined, "An initial site assessment reveals evidence of earth movement in the vicinity of the pipeline."

In short, a landslide took out the structural integrity of the pipeline, causing the rupture and explosion. The pipeline has only been in operation since Sept. 3.

Watch Meghan Schiller's report --


The fire caused a tower for a high tension power line to buckle from the heat, taking five others with it in a chain reaction.

The incident is under investigation and the residents have now returned home.

For anyone with questions or property damage related to the explosion and fire, Chief Kramer says Energy Transfer has set up a hotline at 1-800-445-5846.

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