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Hundreds without service following gas line rupture, fireball

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Hundreds of residents of northwestern Minnesota are still without gas service following the rupture of an underground gas line on Monday morning. It caused an explosion and spectacular fireball about three miles northwest of Warren in Marshall County.

“I’d never heard nothin’ like it in my life.," Fred Nicholls, who lives about a mile from the explosion, told Forum Communications. The fireball could be seen for up to six miles. "It was just hell on Earth, I tell ya, when you see those flames.”

Valley News Live reported that there were no injuries related to the explosion, which caused flames to leap as high as 100 feet into the air. The rupture happened in a farm field in an underground pipeline that belongs to Viking Gas Transmission Co., which is based in Eagan. Although the fire was extinguished within a few hours, about 675 customers in Warren will be without gas for a couple of days while Viking officials investigate the explosion, said spokeswoman Megan Washbourne. Viking’s website said some customers in Argyle and Thief River Falls are also impacted.

Residents within a two-mile radius were evacuated but allowed back into their homes Monday afternoon.

According to the company’s website, Viking connects with major pipeline systems – Trans Canada, Northern Natural, Great Lakes Transmission and ANR – to serve markets in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The gas line that ruptured runs from Emerson, Manitoba, to Marshfield, Wisconsin.

Viking is still unsure of what caused the explosion, and it is under investigation, Washbourne said. KTRF in Thief River Falls said natural causes are suspected, possibly tied to this season’s unusual frost conditions and very wet soil.

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