Explosion blew out crater 100 yards long, 25 yards wide, says pilot

Brodie Otway Facebook photo
Brodie Otway Facebook photo

The natural gas pipeline explosion near Shelley Tuesday created a crater about 100 yards long and 25 yards wide, according to a pilot who flew over the area before emergency crews arrived

Brodie Otway says the damage is “impressive,” in a post on his Facebook page.

“The soil around has been heated to the point it has turned white,” he posted. “There are burned trees all around the site with glowing embers and small fires for about a 500-foot radius.”

The blast and subsequent fire, on the Westcoast Mainline pipeline, forced the evacuation of about 100 Lheidli T’enneh residents. The blast was in a rural area so there was no property damage, other than the pipeline itself and surrounding area. No one was injured in the blast. The fireball could be seen from the city.

Enbridge, which owns the pipeline, Tweeted last night that its emergency crews responded and worked to depressurize two natural gas pipelines. The area is cordoned off to maintain public safety.

The National Energy Board has been notified. NEB inspectors have been deployed to the area and will work alongside the company and other emergency crews.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) is responsible for the investigation into this incident and NEB inspectors will work closely with the TSB on the investigation. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has also sent a team of investigators to the site as authorities look for a cause.

As a result of the explosion and subsequent closing of the line, Fortis BC has shut off service to 128 homes in the Salmon Valley area and is encouraging all British Columbians to conserve their natural gas usage.

“As a result of the incident affecting the Enbridge pipeline that feeds our system we are anticipating decreased energy flow and potential loss of service,” the gas company said in a statement. “FortisBC is requesting all of our natural gas customers across the province to turn off their thermostats as well as reduce use of all other natural gas appliances. We appreciate your assistance and patience. If you smell gas, you need to leave the area and call the FortisBC 24-hour natural gas emergency line at 1-800-663-9911 or 911.

“Although FortisBC’s system is not damaged, we are working hard to continue to provide the energy flow to your homes and businesses. We are monitoring the situation and will provide updates.”

Puget Sound Energy in the United States is making a similar request.