Some allowed home after Texas pipeline explosion

Some residents allowed brief return to North Texas homes even as pipeline continues to burn

Associated Press
Fire keeps residents away from homes 2nd night
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Smoke from a burring gas pipeline carrie over farm fields near Milford, Texas, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013. A Chevron gas pipeline exploded in rural North Texas with no injuries and officials are allowing the fire to burn out. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

MILFORD, Texas (AP) -- Some residents of a rural North Texas town were escorted to their homes Friday as a nearby Chevron pipeline continued to burn, according to sheriff's officials.

Ellis County sheriff's Lt. James Saulter said deputies were accompanying Milford residents who needed to retrieve medication or check on pets. Homeowners were only allowed to stay briefly.

Chevron crews were working Friday to plug the liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, pipeline near Milford, 40 miles south of Dallas. A drilling crew punctured the line Thursday, triggering an explosion and a large fire that could be seen for miles. No injuries were reported.

Chevron requested a 1½-mile evacuation zone for Milford, which has about 700 residents. The company said concerns over air quality, nearby pipelines and other factors prompted the evacuation.

The American Red Cross set up an evacuation shelter in nearby Italy (IT'-lee), where about three dozen people stayed Thursday night.

Jim Barnum, general manager of operations for the Chevron Pipeline Co., apologized Friday on behalf of the company.

"The No. 1 goal for all involved is the protection of life," he said.

He said Chevron crews hope to have the fire extinguished and the pipeline capped by the end of Friday. He said the fire is shrinking.

The company is monitoring a nearby 14-inch LPG pipeline and was working to empty the line and depressurize it.

Barnum said tests have determined that the air quality in the area is "normal."

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