MARYVILLE, IL (KPLR) - Route 162 remains closed as first responders continue to deal with the aftermath of this natural gas explosion that occurred before 2pm Wednesday afternoon.
Flames shot above the trees as you can see in viewer video provided to News11. Ameren Illinois, which provides natural gas service in this part of Illinois, says a high pressure steel gas line was damaged by a construction crew.
Only one worker was hurt. Police say he suffered severe burns.
Fire crews and police from multiple neighboring departments responded and Ameren was able to isolate the damaged line and shut off the gas quickly.
The local police chief explains why there was more than one explosion.
"When they arrived, flames shooting very high into sky. One subject had burn injuries." said Chief Rob Carpenter of the Maryville Police Department. "The flames continued to shoot rather high, catching several cars parked in area on fire. Also a utility pole cuathgt fire. Ultilmately the cars started exploding after they burned for a while."
"It would be a line that delivers a lot of gas. Several hundred pounds of pressure. So when it is hit, that`s why you`ll hear loud noise like a jet engine." said Ameren Illinois Sr. Director Operations John Barud. "We do everything we can to make sure anybody who is putting a shovel into ground calls for a locater. I`s a free service and that`s the safest way to make sure where you are digging will be safe."
Ameren will be checking to see if the contractor had arranged to have the gas line flagged. It could still be several hours before residents will be able to return to their homes and Ameren workers can complete repairs to this damaged gas line.
Several homes in the Nottingham Estates subdivision have been evacuated as a precaution.
Viewers sent these images from the scene: