A fire is raging near the southern Ellis County town of Milford after a Chevron pipeline carrying liquid petroleum gas exploded Thursday morning, prompting a town-wide evacuation.
According to county officials, a 10-inch pipeline southeast Milford along Cosby Road was being worked on when it exploded at about 9:40 a.m. CT. The cause of the explosion has not yet been revealed and, according to Fire Chief Mark Jackson, there have been no injuries reported.
The scene is in an open field, with no nearby structures threatened. There are several vehicles and a rig at the site that have been destroyed by the explosion and fire.
At this time, firefighters from neighboring cities have been called in to assist, however there are no firefighters at the scene and officials said they are simply letting the contained fire burn out. Officials said late Thursday morning that it may take up to 24 hours for that to happen.
Roughly 200 students in the Milford Independent School District are being evacuated as a precaution and taken to nearby Italy. Lt. James Salter with the Milford Police Department said the town's 800 residents are also being evacuated.
As Chopper 5 flew to the scene, a massive plume of smoke was clearly visible on the horizon from about 40 miles out. From 20 miles out, the flames shooting up into the air were visible, according to Ames Meyer, on board Chopper 5. The smoke plume is blowing to the northwest, toward Milford and I-35E.
The Texas Department of Transportation is assisting in the area by detouring traffic to I-35E and closing several roads in the area. Drivers are urged to find alternative routes and to plan for delays. The following roads are closed:
Farm-to-Market Road 308 in Milford - Closed from state Highway 22 in Hill County to U.S. Highway 77 in Ellis County.
U.S. Highway 77 in Milford - Closed in the immediate area of the explosion.
Interstate 35E exit ramps to Milford are closed.
The Texas Railroad Commission said an inspector has been dispatched to the area.
The gas line is owned by Chevron. Late Thursday morning, the company issued the following statement:
At approximately 9.30 a.m. (CST) today, there was an incident at a Chevron pipeline near Milford, Texas. Chevron has initiated its emergency response procedures and is currently responding to the incident. Chevron's primary concern at this point is to ensure the safety of its employees and the surrounding community. As soon as there are further details, they will be made available.
The Ellis County Fire Marshal's Office said they were not aware of any previous incidents at the site.
Milford is a small town along
Interstate 35E, northeast of Hillsboro in southern Ellis County. It is
about 50 miles south of Dallas.
We will continue to update this
story with more information as soon as it's available. As this story is
developing, elements may change.
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