Pipeline Explosion In Northwest Illinois

Aug 13, 2013

The pipeline blast near Erie, IL
Credit Courtesy: Connie Huizenga and WHBF-TV

A fuel pipeline traveling underneath a northwestern Illinois cornfield exploded overnight, sending flames 300 feet into the sky and prompting dozens of evacuations.

The blast occurred near the town of Erie. Fire chief Doug Rutledge tells WNIJ the flames could be seen roughly 30 miles away.

"It was a pretty impressive fireball. It just lit up the sky," Rutledge said.

The pipeline was carrying a mixture of ethane and propane. Dozens of families living within a mile radius of the fire were evacuated, but by Tuesday morning all but two families were allowed back home.

Crews are waiting for the remaining gas to burn off. Meanwhile, workers with the pipeline owner, Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners, were investigating what caused the blast.

Erie is 27 miles northeast of Davenport, Iowa.