11 people injured in California gas pipeline explosion
A natural gas pipeline explosion in Fresno in the US state of California has left at least 11 people injured, and shut down part of a major inter-city highway.
According to the Fresno County sheriff’s office, three of the injured were in critical condition and another was in serious condition at a burn and trauma center in Fresno on Saturday.
“Four of the injured have been released so far after seeking medical treatment” Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims told reporters.
Initial reports said that the explosion happened at the Fresno County sheriff’s gun range when an employee using heavy equipment hit a pipe carrying natural gas.
A group of prison inmates were only meters away from the pipeline because they were doing mandatory cleanup work in the area.
Some of the inmates along with the worker at the Fresno County sheriff gun range were among the victims of the explosion.
The explosion sent flames hundreds of feet into the air freighting people nearby the place of the incident.
“It was shooting up to 200 feet or more, and a fireball maybe 10 to 15 feet in diameter. It was like out of a movie,” one driver told a local media outlet covering the incident.
Highway 99, one of California’s busiest roads, came to a complete halt after the explosion took place in the early afternoon hours causing a long line of traffic.
Also, nearby the site of the explosion, a rail line was stopped due to safety concerns.
State and federal authorities, including from the California Public Utilities Commission and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, are set to begin investigating the issue after the weekend.