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Massive Oklahoma Panhandle gas fire under investigation

Elmwood Fire Department was one of the departments responding to the fire.
Elmwood Fire Department
Elmwood Fire Department is a volunteer department and one of the agencies responding to the fire.

Officials said the gas pipeline explosion that spurt flames hundreds of feet in the air in Oklahoma's panhandle is extinguished, caused no injuries and is being investigated. 

Chris Stoppel could see the fire near the Oklahoma-Texas border from Sublette, Kansas, more than 80 miles to the northwest.

“I was just getting home from town,” Stoppel said. “I’d been in town and was pulling in our driveway and I could see it glow.”

Stoppel, an alfalfa, wheat and milo farmer, said once his son saw the light in the distance, they climbed onto the back of his truck for a better view. Stoppel said this is not the only gas fire he has seen.

The fire in rural Beaver County started Tuesday night and was extinguished on Wednesday morning. Local fire departments worked to stifle the blaze, and Phillips 66 said in a statement the company shut off the affected portion of the pipeline.

Trey Davis, a spokesperson for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, said DCP Midstream owns and operates the pipe. This past year, Phillips 66 acquired DCP Midstream.

“This turns out to have been what is called a dead leg pipe,” Davis said.

A dead leg pipe is a smaller, inactive offshoot of the larger main pipeline. He said these situations do happen, but not usually to this degree.

“You know, very fortunate that this is in a very rural area. No structures around it,” Davis said. “We are checking to make sure that there was no damage to the main pipeline that this dead leg was attached to, just to make sure there may not be some additional problems still.”

A U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration spokesperson said it is aware of the incident involving the gas gathering pipeline, and is investigating the cause with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.

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Anna Pope is a reporter covering agriculture and rural issues at KOSU as a corps member with Report for America.
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