August 26, 1996 in Nation/World

Gas Fume Complaints Made Before Blast

Compiled From Wire Services

Before a liquid butane pipeline exploded near a rural neighborhood, a flurry of 911 calls complained of gas fumes so strong that many residents were afraid to turn on lights or start their cars.

Moments later, two teenagers got into their pickup and died when an ignition spark sent a fireball 150 feet into the air and triggered 15 to 20 other fires, some of which continued to burn Sunday.

“They were going to warn everybody they smelled gas and as they were pulling out of the yard … it just blew up,” neighbor Lola Simon said of Saturday’s explosion.

The blast destroyed one home and forced the evacuation of 50 families, who by Sunday afternoon had returned to their homes. The cause of the leak had not been determined.

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