Updated Wed, Dec 12, 2012 9:01 am
UPDATE: 12/12/12 @ 9:00 a.m. Part of Interstate 77 in West Virginia has reopened after crews worked through the night to repair damage from a massive natural gas line explosion and fire.
Tuesday's inferno destroyed four homes and damaged others. It melted guardrails and left a huge swath of the interstate in Sissonville impassible. Nobody was killed, but several people were treated for smoke inhalation.
Northbound lanes of I-77 reopened early Wednesday. Southbound lanes remained closed.
A roughly 800-foot section in both directions was baked by the heat.
Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox said crews were removing asphalt and grinding the roadway down to the original concrete before repaving. The state hopes to have the highway reopened in both directions by Wednesday night.
Federal and state officials are investigating what caused the explosion.
UPDATE 3:20 P.M. A major gas line has exploded in West Virginia, burning five homes and shutting down a stretch of Interstate 77 in Sissonville.
UPDATE: 2:28 p.m. Five homes are burning and part of Interstate 77 is shut down in both directions near Sissonville after a major gas line explosion.
Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper says flames are shooting 50-75 feet high. He says it's not yet clear whether anyone has been hurt.
Sissonville Fire Chief Tim Gooch says a nursing home is less than a mile from the site of the blast, but the patients are safe. He says they're sending paramedics in just to be sure.
Gooch says all the burning structures appear to be residential. He says the heat and fire is so intense that firefighters can't get close.
Sgt. Michael Baylous says the blast occurred about 12:40 p.m. Tuesday.
Kanawha County emergency officials said crews are working to shut off the pipeline.
West Virginia State Police say several structures are on fire and about a mile of Interstate 77 is shut down in both directions near Sissonville after a major gas explosion.
Sgt. Michael Baylous says it's unclear whether anyone has been hurt.
The explosion occurred around 12:40 p.m. Tuesday, and firefighters and other first responders were rushing to the scene. Kanawha County emergency officials said crews are working to shut off the pipeline.
Baylous said details are sketchy, but there is a nursing home near the site of the explosion along Tupper's Creek.
Sissonville is about 5 miles north of Charleston.