Gas regulator station near Gypsum explodes in flames
A natural gas regulator station erupted in a fireball Friday afternoon near Gypsum, closing Highway 6 for about two hours and cutting off gas service to about 125 customers of Kinder Morgan Energy. There were no injuries.
The blaze erupted about 1:15 p.m. Friday just east of Gypsum at the entrance to the Elam Construction gravel pit. Gypsum Fire Chief Dave Vroman said witnesses at the LaFarge gravel pit across Highway 6 reported they heard a loud “boom,” looked up and saw a fireball bursting from the regulator station.
Eagle County Sheriff’s Deputy Tad Degan said he and fellow officer Dave Proctor were on a traffic stop near the scene, looked up and saw the fire. “It just occurred in front of us,” said Degan. “There was no noise, just fire.”
Kinder Morgan employees quickly shut off gas to the high-pressure line, but miles of gas pumping at high pressure – more than 500 pounds per square inch – take some time to burn off. The blaze was mostly out within an hour.
Once the fire was out, Kinder Morgan crews got to work replacing gas line. Replacement line, excavation machinery and other equipment was quickly sent to Gypsum from Glenwood Springs.
Most of the affected customers were in the Buckhorn Valley residential area, at the Eagle County Regional Airport, and in a handful of commercial subdivisions just south of the airport. Kinder Morgan supervisor Gary Evans said about 125 customers were affected.
Along with the repair work, Kinder Morgan crews also began investigating the cause of the fire. There was no obvious cause as of Friday afternoon.
Vroman said it’s fortunate that Friday’s fire occurred in an area with no structures nearby. Aside from the regulator station, only a few hundred square feet of grass and a few fence posts were burned.
Vroman also noted there are high-pressure gas lines are all over the valley.
“We really need to work on maintenance of these things,” he said.
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