'State of Emergency' declared in Alabama after explosion at Colonial Pipeline

HELENA, Ala. — Alpharetta-based Colonial Pipeline has shut down its main line at a site in Alabama after an explosion.

Investigators say the explosion hit around 3:30 p.m. Monday after machinery hit the pipeline in Shelby County, Alabama.

One person died and at least five others were injured in the blast.

Channel 2's Aaron Diamant is as close to the scene of the blast as authorities will allow. He reports a massive response underway as crew work to put out the fire a day after the explosion.

Channel 2's Jim Strickland obtained internal information from Colonial Pipeline showing one pipeline has resumed operations as of midnight. That pipeline contains diesel, jet fuel and home heating oil.

A second pipeline, which is the main gas line, is projected to resume on Saturday.

Gov. Robert Bentley tweeted that the explosion is about 1 mile away from the same area where the Colonial gas pipeline leak happened this summer.

On Tuesday, Bentley declared a State of Emergency in Alabama due to the explosion and fire.

Seven injured workers were taken to Birmingham hospitals by helicopter and ambulance, Bentley said.

"It appears to have been an accident, and they're allowing fuel to burn," Bentley said.

Video from area media shows a huge plume of flame and smoke rising in what appears to be a wooded area.

Helena police say they're assisting Shelby County authorities with a pipeline fire.

Bentley said his office is receiving updates from state and local authorities.

"Pray for workers, rescue personnel," Bentley said in a statement.


The explosion happened in a remote area outside the town of Helena, away from residential areas.

In September, the Colonial Pipeline leaked thousands of gallons of gas southwest of Birmingham near Helena and led to dry fuel pumps in several Southern states — for days, in some cases. There was no immediate indication whether Monday's explosion will lead to similar shortages.

Drivers worried about rising gas prices

Late Monday night, AAA said it was expecting price hikes because of the pipeline incident.

“We were just beginning to recover from the gas price hikes we saw from the pipeline closure in September,” said Garrett Townsend, Georgia Public Affairs Director for AAA. "The explosion will at least temporarily put a halt to the pump-price dip we've experienced over the past 30 days."

News of the pipeline explosion caused concern for people across the Atlanta metro after the gas shortage the area experienced a couple of months ago.

>>MAP: Colonial Pipeline network through metro Atlanta<<

Kameron Johnson said she’s rattled because it takes her an hour to get to work every day.

“The prices are going to go up to $3.29 a gallon, people aren’t going to be able to get to work, what are we going to do?” Johnson said.

People told Jaquez they are also upset that this is the second time this has happened on the same pipeline.

“It hasn’t even been a month yet and this is happening again,” Johnson said.

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. They include petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel. Authorities have not said which type of fuel was involved in the explosion Monday.

Information from The Associated Press and ABC 33/40 used in this article.

This is the vantage point from atop the hill...

Posted by April Ruth Everett on Monday, October 31, 2016