TransCanada Natural Gas Pipeline Explodes in Southern Manitoba

from Red Power Media

Natural gas pipeline explodes near Otterburne

Natural gas pipeline explodes near Otterburne

Emergency workers, TransCanada investigating cause of pipeline blast

A natural gas pipeline was still burning Saturday morning after it exploded overnight near Otterburne, about 25 kilometres south of Winnipeg.

St-Pierre-Jolys RCMP responded around 1:05 a.m. to what they’re calling a “loud explosion.”

Witnesses who live close to the scene said it was massive. Paul Rawluk lives nearby and drove to the site.

“As we got closer, we could see these massive 200 to 300 metre high flames just shooting out of the ground and it literally sounded like a jet plane,” he said. “And that’s the thing that really got us, was the sound of it.”

He said it was hard to describe the scale.

“Massive, like absolutely massive,” he said. “The police were by [Highway] 59 and you could just see little cars out there and you could see in comparison how big the flame was. It was just literally two to 300 metres in the air. And bright, I mean lit up the sky.”

Tyler Holigroski, who lives in theOtterburne area, remembers seeing a flickering, bright light in the sky.

“Thought it was the neighbours’ house or something like that,” he said. “I thought there was a fire, but the way it lit the sky, it was like the sun coming up. The only thing is it was flashing. It would get brighter, get dim, get brighter, go dim.

“It lit up the whole sky here for half an hour. The sky’s still glowing, actually,” Holigroski said.

Police have confirmed the fire is coming from the pipeline, but say the burning gas is non-toxic.

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Pipeline crews venting the gas 

The pipeline, which is owned by TransCanada PipeLines, has been temporarily shut down according to a statement from a company spokesman. The statement also said that nearby roads have been closed, and that the company is not aware of any reports of injuries.

However, five houses within the vicinity of the fire were evacuated by RCMP and St-Pierre-Jolys Fire Department.

TransCanada said crews are now venting the natural gas from the system to eliminate the fuel source for the fire.

The company said that process generates a loud noise but poses no risk to the public.

It said the fire is still burning and is being closely monitored as it decreases in size.

The company added the pipeline provides Manitoba Hydro with natural gas for several communities in the region, and that they are working with Hydro to determine what the impact will be.

The company said the cause of the fire is not known and investigations cannot begin until the fire is out.

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