Backhoe hits gas line, sparking explosion in McKinney




Posted on August 28, 2012 at 9:38 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 7 at 2:50 PM

MCKINNEY - A McKinney construction site was still smoldering hours after an explosion sparked a fire that engulfed the area in a ball of flames Tuesday morning.

The fire engulfed construction vehicles and sent large black smoke billowing into the area at State Highway 121 and Central Expressway in McKinney.

Witnesses reported the explosion at about 8:30 a.m. At the time, six men on heavy equipment were at the construction site when a backhoe ruptured the gas line.

"I could hear the noise of the fire coming from my bedroom," said Keith Jackson, a witness who lives at the nearby Fairways at Wilson Creek Apartment complex. "It turned off all the power. We stepped out onto the porch and you could see the fire coming out from the top of our apartment complex."

All of the workers survived the blast. One was taken to the Medical Center of McKinney a few blocks away. The hospital lost power and had to use a back-up generator for a short time after the explosion.

The high pressure of natural gas spewed from the 12-inch line and sounded like a jet engine.

"It sounds like a jetliner just landed behind us," Jackson said. "It's so intense you can feel the heat from here."

The fire burned for more than an hour until Atmos shut off the gas and the pressure quickly subsided.  When the flames fanned out and the smoke began to clear, the charred machinery came into view.