Pipeline explodes near Prince George, B.C.: RCMP

Ruptured pipeline sparks large fire near Prince George

Ruptured pipeline sparks large fire near Prince George

The blast Tuesday shut down the Enbridge natural gas pipeline about 15 kilometres northeast of Prince George.

Residents within several kilometres were evacuated as a precaution, but the evacuation zone has since been reduced to one kilometre.

National Energy Board spokesman Tom Neufeld said the fire was along Enbridge's Westcoast main line, which falls under the board's jurisdiction.

The Westcoast Transmission System transports natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to consumers in B.C. and, through interconnecting pipelines, other Canadian provinces and the United States.

"NEB inspectors have been deployed to this area".

"About 70 per cent of customers could be impacted here", said Douglas Stout, vice-president of external relations with FortisBC.

Teegee, whose home is about one kilometre from the site, said he and most members of the community of about 100 people spent the night in hotels or with friends. FortisBC is working closely with Enbridge and all officials involved in the incident.

Chief Dominic Frederick with the Lheidli T'enneh First Nation said Enbridge contacted him shortly after the blast.

"I was able to see it very clearly from the hill", he said. "It was huge even from this distance".

The damaged Enbridge pipeline connects to the Northwest Pipeline system, which feeds Puget Sound Energy in Washington State and Northwest Natural Gas in Portland. There are no reports of injuries, he said.

"Minimize the use of hot water if you have a natural gas hot water tank ... so we preserve the gas we have for as long as possible", said Stout.

"We thought it might have been a train crash or a low-flying jet", he said.

"We were a bit anxious when it first happened".

Gas prices could jump in the Pacific Northwest due to a natural gas pipeline explosion.

RCMP say homes in the immediate area, which is largely rural, have been evacuated.

"A cause will be determined following an investigation of this event", said Barnes.

UPDATE: 7:40 p.m.

The Enbridge website describes its almost 2,900 kilometre natural gas pipeline as capable of "transporting approximately 55 per cent of the gas produced in the province", and "the backbone of B.C.'s natural gas industry since 1957".

Enbridge has issued a response following a scary pipeline explosion north of Prince George.

The NEB has also activated its emergency operations centre in Calgary, he said.

"We don't know what caused this explosion yet but once we do know, no doubt there will be some lessons to be learned and we will be implementing those as regulators".

"This is a unique situation, we rarely have horrific explosion as we've had north of Prince George", Horgan said.