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Westmoreland Co. Highway Damaged By Gas Blast Still Being Fixed

GREENSBURG, Pa. (KDKA/AP) - A rural highway damaged when a natural gas pipeline exploded into a fireball in western Pennsylvania will remain closed for repairs for at least a few more days.

Route 819 in Salem Township remained closed Tuesday from Route 22 to Boff Hollow Road. The stretch about 30 miles east of Pittsburgh was damaged when the pipeline burst, scorching 40 acres in the largely rural township.

One man whose nearby home was destroyed, 26-year-old James Baker, has been upgraded from critical to fair condition at the burn unit of UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh.

The fire chief on scene said it looked like a bomb had gone off and the blast could be felt for miles.

"When I came around the bend, it looked like you were looking down into hell, is what I would compare it to," Forbes Road Fire Department Chief Bob Rosatti said. "As far across my windshield as I can see, it was just a massive fireball, and I parked a quarter mile away and I couldn't get out of my truck because it was that hot."

One nearby home was destroyed and two others were damaged.

Spectra Energy Corp. of Houston is working with the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration to investigate the cause of the explosion.

The company has three other underground pipelines running through the township.

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(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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