Gas Pipeline Explosion in Alabama: What You Should Know

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On Oct 31, a gas pipeline exploded in Shelby County, Alabama, sending fire and smoke soaring into the air. The blast killed one person and injured five people, according to The Weather Channel.

The 5,500-mile Colonial pipeline, which supplies gasoline to millions of Americans in 13 states, exploded when a crew was working on the line with a track hoe, according to The Weather Channel. The blast burned approximately 31 acres of land, resulting in a dangerous fire. However, this is not the first time that the pipeline has experienced a problem.

In September, the pipeline closed down due to a leak that spilled 250,000 gallons of gasoline, according to CNN Money. The outcome was a 12-day interruption in the flow of about 1.3 million barrels per day of fuel from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast.

Here are a few things you should know if you are worried about the blast.

Is the Fire Contained?

Crews with the Alabama Forestry Commission have contained the fires that resulted from the pipeline explosion, according to WBAY. Three bulldozers from the AFC are on site helping to clear the area. Several cleanup units are on the scene and the Birmingham Fire Department is providing foam to help extinguish any flames.

Coleen Vansant, a spokeswoman with the Alabama Forestry Commission, said crews were attempting to build a 75-foot-long earthen dam to contain burning fuel to allow it to burn itself out, according to WBAY. They are unsure how long it will take and how long they will be out there.

Who has Been Evacuated?

After the pipeline explosion, homes within 30 miles of the blast were evacuated. There are only two homes in the immediate vicinity, which were both roughly a half mile from the explosion site, according to Those residents have been evacuated because the area is rural and the fire might spread quickly into the area.

Shelby County Sheriff John Samaniego told reporters he doesn’t expect further evacuations. The area appears to be cleared out to protect any people in the vicinity. Capt. Jeff Hartley of the Sheriff’s Office said that it wasn’t clear when people might be able to return home, according to

Are Roads Closed?

Roadways in the area will remain closed to all but local traffic to allow emergency personnel easy access to the site, according to WBAY. Capt. Hartley is advising people to stay away from Highway 13 and the River Road Area where the incident occurred.

What’s Next?

A big issue associated with the blast is that gasoline supplies are cut off for millions of people, leading Gov. Robert Bentley to declare a state of emergency. Gas prices have gone up, according to reports, but Fortune says the pipeline could be ready to open up again by Saturday, Nov. 5.

Colonial executive Gerald Beck told Fortune that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration currently has control of the site. The fire still burns, but Colonial expects to get into the site this week yet. That will allow them to determine how long the repair will take.