August 13, 2013

Eighty homes were evacuated on Monday night after a propane-ethanol pipeline exploded north of Erie, Illinois, causing no injuries, according to Erie fire officials.

Firefighters were called around 11:15 p.m. local time after a gas pipeline leak sparked a massive fire in a corn field, said Erie Fire Department Asst. Chief Scott Melton.

The leak occurred in a relatively remote area, with some homes located about 300 to 400 yards away, according to Melton. The evacuation radius was expanded to a mile from the leak.

WHBF talked with a spokesperson from Enterprise Productions, the company that owns the line, who said that there are thousands of miles of gas line in the area, and that the gas is a propane and ethanol mix.

The bright orange flare of the resulting fire reached hundreds of feet into the night sky and could be seen for miles.

All but two of the 80 homes evacuated were cleared to return home by early Tuesday morning, Melton said. No injuries were reported, he said, and the gas pipeline company shut down the line and allowed residual gas to burn off.

More than a dozen people were gathered in a shelter opened by the Erie fire department, according to NBC News affiliate KWQC.

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