Blenheim, NY Pipeline Explosion, Mar 1990
PIPELINE BLAST KILLS ONE IN NEW YORK FARM TOWN.
Blenheim, N.Y. (AP) - A leaking liquid propane pipeline exploded in flames Tuesday, killing one person.
Three people were injured and 10 homes were leveled in this farm town.
"The houses in that area are completely devastated," said Chris Becker of Middleburgh Telephone Co.
"It looks like somebody dropped a bomb."
The underground pipeline exploded twice as the valley community of about 100 people 40 miles southwest of Albany awakened shortly before 8 a.m., knocking out electricity and phones up to 15 miles away.
The cause of the explosion had not been determined.
Mark Dowis, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Transportation, said the leak could have been caused by a manufacturing flow, damage from an outside force or buckling due to frost. The eight-inch pipeline is almost 50 years old, he said.
"When it first happened, we thought an airplane had crashed into the side of the hill," said resident Liz Mace.
"I was just getting ready for work and there was this horrendous explosion. It sounded like a jet when they pass the sound barrier."
"And then there was another, smaller explosion, and my husband said, 'My God! I don't like the sound of that.' I looked out the window and the hill behind my house was on fire."
The leak apparently caused the propane, which is heavier than air, to seep about a mile along a creek bed into the valley where the houses were located, state officials said.
The blasts burned dozens of trees and singed farmland.
Route 30, where the pipeline is located, and several side streets in the area were closed to traffic.
Volunteer firefighters from a dozen companies spent almost three hours extinguishing fires.
The pipeline is owned by Texas Eastern Transmission Corp., and carries about 60 percent of New York State's liquid propane supply.
Salina Journal Kansas 1990-03-14
The Casualties Were:
MR. ROBERT L. HITCHCOCK.
MR. RICHARD SMITH, 43, of Central Bridge, N.Y.