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Pipeline Explosion Pushes Residents Out Of Homes On Christmas Eve

WASHINGTON COUNTY (KDKA) -- About a dozen people had to spend Christmas Eve in a hotel, their car or a fire hall after a pipeline explosion in Washington County.

The pipeline originates in Marshall County, W. Va. and transports ethane to Houston, Pa. Today, the company is responsible for assessing the damage.

Neighbors say flames were so bright they light the sky orange. The explosion was also so loud, they say it rocked their homes.

"I went upstairs to change and get ready for bed. I came down and looked out the side window. There's a big ball of fire blowing up out of that thing," neighbor Tracy Sampson said.

Tracy Sampson lives right next to the Williams Partners L.P. Meter Station in Chartiers Township, Washington County. She says the flames continued to get worse so she called 911.

"We got ready and left. We didn't want to be here. I was just afraid the whole place was going to blow. That's what you think about all the time living here. It wasn't like that when we bought it or we wouldn't have bought it," Sampson said.

Sampson has lived at her home for almost 16 years. She says she and her family drove around the area for hours until it was safe to return home.

A spokesperson with the company says the fire happened around 10 p.m. Williams' Pipeline Control responded by closing the main line valve of its Ohio Valley Ethane Pipeline so it could stop producing flow to the facility.

Throughout the night, Williams personnel depressurized the facility and the fire was contained. As a precaution, emergency responders evacuated around a dozen homes in the area.

Residents were allowed to come home around 12:30 a.m. Which held Sampson back from getting her Christmas preparations done.

"I didn't get my stuff wrapped last night. I had to get up this morning and do it. I guess it's my fault for being a last minute kind of person, but what are you going to do," Sampson said.

No one was injured in the explosion. The cause of the fire is unknown at this time.

Williams personnel are in the process of notifying the appropriate regulatory agencies.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection representatives came to the site last night to assess the incident.

No estimate is currently available so far as when the facility would be returned to service.

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