Massive Blast Rattles West Virginia

Wednesday, December 12, 2012 - 9:34am

Natural gas explosion destroys several homes and shuts down Interstate 77.

At least four homes have been destroyed and Interstate 77 has been damaged after a gas line explosion in Sissonville, West Virginia.

The fire was reported just before 1 p.m. Tuesday.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper says a major 20-inch gas transmission line exploded, sending flames shooting hundreds of feet into the air.

Four homes have been destroyed and at least five others have been damaged, according to county leaders.

In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said two to five people have been taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Emergency crews say that there are no reported fatalities and that everyone has been accounted for, according to Tomblin.

Tomblin says the area has been evacuated within 1,000 feet of the explosion site.

"After looking at the damage, I'm grateful for the quick action of our local and state emergency responders who immediately called for a shelter in place," Tomblin said.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced it has launched an investigation into the explosion. NTSB team members, including NTSB Board Member Robert Sumwalt, are en route to Charleston.

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