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Emergency crews responded to a massive explosion at a Colonial Pipeline at around 2:00 p.m. local time. The company says a trackhoe – a dirt-removing machine – being used in the area struck the pipe, causing the gasoline inside to ignite, explode, and cause the fire.
One man working at the site died in the explosion. According to AL.com, at least five workers sustained severe burns in the pipeline explosion. These victims are receiving treatment at UAB Hospital’s Trauma Burn Intensive Care Unit in Birmingham.
The workers at the site were subcontractors working for L.E. Bell Construction company, hired to drain the line of gasoline, reports AL.com.
Colonial Pipeline shut down gasoline flow through the affected area, but gasoline still in the pipeline continued to burn throughout Monday and into Tuesday morning. Small wildfires had to be extinguished as a result of the fiery explosion as well.
The explosion occurred near the location of a leaking section of pipe that occurred in early September. This incident caused a gasoline shortage and an increase of gasoline prices throughout the Southeast. It is unknown if widespread gasoline price increases will result from the pipeline explosion.
According to AL.com, the Colonial Pipeline carries an estimated 40 percent of all gasoline sold on the east coast of the United States. The pipeline remains shutdown and it is unknown when gasoline will resume flowing.
Gasoline Explosion Accident Information
The following information regarding gas explosions in the United States is provided by ProPublica:
There is roughly 2.5 million miles of pipelines in the United States.
More than 500 people died in pipeline accidents since 1986, and more than 4,000 sustained injuries.
Since 1986, pipeline ruptures, breaks, and explosions, caused over seven billion dollars in damages.