UPDATE: Colonial Pipeline Line 1 safely restarted and returned t - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

UPDATE: Colonial Pipeline Line 1 safely restarted and returned to service

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A plume of smoke rises from the site of an explosion on the Colonial Pipeline on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016, in Helena, AL. AP photo A plume of smoke rises from the site of an explosion on the Colonial Pipeline on Monday, Oct. 31, 2016, in Helena, AL. AP photo

UPDATE: The Colonial Pipeline Company has removed the affected segment of the pipeline Saturday, installed a new segment and Line 1 was restarted around 7 p.m. Saturday evening.

Subsequent to Saturday's successful restart, it is expected to take several days for the fuel delivery supply chain to return to normal.

A map of the Colonial system that reflects how re-supply will arrive at different markets once Line 1 restarts.


PREVIOUS STORY:  Six people are hurt and one person died after a gas explosion in rural Alabama. The explosion sent flames soaring over the forest about a mile west of where the Colonial pipeline burst in September.

Chopper video shows the huge plume of smoke rising in a wooded area in Shelby County, which is about 25 miles southwest of Birmingham. Investigators are working to determine the cause of the blast, but they believe it was accidental.

Channel 3 found driver, Jerry Harris filling up because he doesn't want to find himself in a town without any gas.

"Well it may be the last gas that we get," said Jerry Harris

He's not alone, people are starting to line up at the pump, which is the exact opposite of what gas station owners want you do right now.

"If it continues at this rate in a couple of days it will be a scene," said Chris Rogers, Raceway Manager.

Rogers has already seen a 30% increase in sales, after news spread about the gas pipeline explosion in Alabama. The long term effects of the explosion are unknown right now.

"It's too early to say what that will be so we don't have a timeline for when the pipeline will be fixed," said Stephanie Milani, Tn Public Affairs Director AAA-the auto club group.

The explosion happened about a mile west of where the pipeline ruptured last month. That break led to gas disruptions across the south for several days.

"Everybody came and filled up every vehicle and can they had and it made it run out way faster than it would have on a normal basis," said Rogers.

The resulting panic drained the pumps faster than they could be refilled. Getting gas is not the problem, Tennessee can use at least two other pipeline sources. 

"We can only get a certain amount of gas a day, the trucks can only carry a certain amount so if we are selling more gas then they can bring us there is going to be a shortage whether there is a shortage or not," said Rogers.

Officials are urging motorists to stay calm and show restraint, don't top off the tank, unless it's absolutely necessary.

"Consequently everybody runs out of gas and everybody panics and starts filling up and topping of so it's just a mess for everybody," said Harris.

Colonial's gasoline line 1 will remain closed for the rest of the week. The fire is under control, but it will have to burn itself out under the supervision of local fire and emergency management. Line 2 which carries diesel and jet fuel is back open. 


By JAY REEVES and JEFF MARTIN, Associated Press

HELENA, AL(AP) - An explosion along the Colonial Pipeline in rural Alabama killed one worker and injured several others Monday not far from where the line burst and leaked thousands of gallons of gasoline last month, authorities said.

Colonial Pipeline Co. said in a statement late Monday that one worker was killed at the scene, and five others were taken to Birmingham-area hospitals for treatment.

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The blast, which sent flames and thick black smoke soaring over the forest, happened about a mile west of where the pipeline ruptured in September, Gov. Robert Bentley said in a statement. That break led to gasoline shortages across the South.

"We'll just hope and pray for the best," Bentley said.

Georgia-based Colonial said in a brief statement that it had shut down its main pipeline in the area.

A track hoe - a machine used to remove dirt - struck the pipeline, Colonial Pipeline said in a more detailed update late Monday night. Gasoline was then ignited and caused the blaze, the company said.

In September, the pipeline leaked 252,000 to 336,000 gallons of gasoline and led to dry fuel pumps and price spikes in several Southern states - for days, in some cases. There was no immediate indication whether Monday's explosion near Helena southwest of Birmingham would lead to similar shortages.

Plagued by a severe drought after weeks without rain, the section of the state where the explosion happened has been scarred by multiple wildfires in recent weeks, and crews worked to keep the blaze from spreading across the landscape.

Coleen Vansant, a spokeswoman with the Alabama Forestry Commission, said crews built a 75-foot-long earthen dam to contain burning fuel, which will be allowed to burn itself out. The Shelby County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Monday night that the blaze had been contained but it was unclear how long the fire may take to burn out.

Two wildfires caused by the explosion burned 31 acres of land, Vansant said.

Houses around the blast scene were evacuated, and Sheriff's Office Capt. Jeff Hartley said it wasn't clear when people might be able to return home.

"There's a large plume of smoke; there's a large fire. We're not sure exactly how it started or what caused it," he said.

Firetrucks were still arriving on the scene hours after the explosion, and ambulances were parked along a highway nearby.

"We're got first responders entering the area, and a lot of them," Hartley said.

Bentley said the explosion seems to have been an accident.

The injured workers were taken to Birmingham hospitals by helicopter and ambulance, the governor told WBRC-TV in a live interview. Their conditions weren't immediately known.

Eight or nine subcontractors were working on the pipeline when it exploded about 3 p.m. Monday, Shelby County sheriff's Maj. Ken Burchfield told Al.com.

"Colonial's top priorities are the health and safety of the work crew on site and protection of the public," the company said in a statement.

Colonial Pipeline, based in Alpharetta, Georgia, transports more than 100 million gallons of products daily to markets between Houston and New York City, serving more than 50 million people, it says on its website. Those include petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel.

___

Jay Reeves reported from Helena, Alabama; Jeff Martin reported from Atlanta.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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