Natural gas line explodes in north Texas

A large natural gas line in north Texas erupted Monday after utility workers accidentally hit the line, sending a massive fireball into the air and killing one worker, officials said.

CLEBURNE, Texas — A large natural gas line in north Texas erupted Monday after utility workers accidentally hit the line, sending a massive fireball into the air and killing one worker, officials said.

Authorities found the missing worker’s body several hours after the explosion, once searchers could safely walk through the entire charred area.

Authorities had hoped the missing man had left the scene on his own, like some of his colleagues who drove themselves to hospitals.

Brian Fine, Hood County’s emergency management co-ordinator, said the worker’s body was found some distance from the blast site.

The worker had been riding a truck drilling holes for utility poles when the line suddenly exploded, and other workers lost sight of him in the intense smoke, said Roger Harmon, Johnson County’s top elected official.

Near the blast site in rural Johnson County about 80 kilometres southwest of Dallas, officials later found the truck upside down and saw that the 2,000-pound drilling component had been ripped off the vehicle and hurled 250 feet away, said Cleburne Fire Chief Clint Ishmael.

At least seven of the other 13 workers who had been working at the site went to hospitals. Gary Marks, CEO of Glen Rose Medical Center, said two people were treated and released, and four others were in stable condition.

One patient was taken to Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth. Spokeswoman Whitney Jodry did not have person’s condition.

The explosion caused confusion among officials in its immediate aftermath, with one city official initially saying three people had been killed.

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