(Updated 12:15 p.m.) Pipeline engineers are on the scene of a northwestern Minnesota natural gas explosion that sent flames 100 feet into the air early Monday.
Viking Gas Transmission Company owns the pipeline and Megan Washbourne, a company spokesperson said she doesn't know when workers will be able to restore gas service to the 900 customers in Warren and Argyle.
No one was hurt in the explosion and the flames died out within hours of the initial blast.
The pipeline three miles northwest of Warren ruptured just after 6 a.m. in a rural area a mile away from the nearest house according to local officials.
The sound woke Marshall County Sheriff John Novacek in his Warren home a few minutes before his pager lit up.
"I knew something wasn't right," he said. "I could hear a jet engine."
Novacek drove to the scene Monday into what looked like a sunset, only it was 6:30 in the morning, and the red glow was in the wrong place.
A day later, Novacek said things could have gone a lot worse. The explosion blew a 15-foot crater in the ground and burned too hot for firefighters to tackle.
Viking workers closed down 15 miles of pipeline between pump stations near Angus and Argyle. Area fire departments and law enforcement evacuated a dozen homes within a two-mile radius of the flames and set up roadblocks, watching from a one-mile perimeter as the gas burned away.
"I thought we'd be there half the day," Novacek said.
As it turned out, 15 miles of 24-inch pipe was emptied of gas in less than an hour. By early afternoon, the fire was out and evacuated families returned to their homes.
The cause of the rupture is still under investigation, but Novacek expects melting frost shifted the earth and snapped the pipe. He does not suspect foul play.
"It was a pretty neat thing to watch," he said, "and luckily, no one got hurt."