SALEM TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Federal and state investigators are trying to learn the cause of a massive pipeline blast in Westmoreland County on Friday that injured one man and forced a partial evacuation of a neighborhood.
A fireplace, brick chimney and parts of several walls are the only things still standing after a Salem Township home was destroyed by the explosion and fire in the natural gas pipeline.READ MORE: Live Winter Storm Tracker: Snow Now Expected To Reach 6-12 Inches In Pittsburgh
The home was located about 500 yards from the transmission pipeline.
The injured homeowner, who told first responders he thought he heard what sounded like a tornado, ran out of his house when the massive blast occurred, and luckily, a motorist saw him.
Chief Bob Rosatti, of the Forbes Road Fire Department said, “A motorist heard the noise, he heard the explosion, he drove up, he was driving up toward the fireball, he seen the man running down the road, so he picked him up and brought him out of the immediate danger zone.”
The explosion and fire occurred just after 8 a.m. Friday, in a pipeline operated by Texas Eastern Transmission.READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: The Snow Has Arrived
Several other homes in the area were damaged by the waves of intense heat, and a nearby farm field was scorched.
Route 819, near the pipeline, was damaged in the blast, and it will remain closed until Monday so PennDOT crews can make repairs.
Neighbors, like Richard Johnson, were clearly shaken.
“All hell broke loose,” said Johnston, an evacuee whose home was damaged by the fire. “There was an explosion right there, there was fire all across here, the wind was terrible, the heat was something else. You couldn’t stand it. I thought 10 airplanes had crashed at one time. As soon as I realized it wasn’t an airplane, I figured it was a pipeline.”MORE NEWS: PHOTO GALLERY: Winter Storm System Moves Into Pittsburgh Area
As federal and state investigators try to determine the cause of the explosion, nothing has been ruled out.