One day later, Platte County pipeline explosion still causing a stir as investigation continues

PLATTE CITY, Mo. -- Investigators returned to the scene of a pipeline explosion on Wednesday, which happened at about 6:30 on Tuesday evening.

The explosion was not expected, but planned for according to a spokesperson for the pipeline company. Its system is designed so that a backup of gas will not build up on either side of the dead pipe to avoid a worse disaster.

Folks who live around the area are still talking about the glow in the sky that most have never seen before.

“Definitely heart-pounding, I mean that was the biggest fire I have ever seen from this close,” witness Michael Keller described.

Keller lives just down the street from where the pipeline explosion happened Tuesday evening. He says he had just left home when he heard the commotion.

“This time it was like ‘kaboom’ and I felt something,” Keller recalled.

He said he immediately turned around and went home to make sure everyone was ready to, as he puts it, get and go.

“You would have to be standing at the end of the driveway right there, but that`s what we saw. I mean there`s a lot of smoke,” he said. “I have witnessed tornados, I`ve witnessed houses on fire and such but never of this caliber in which it could be right next door.”

What is right next door, or behind his house, is that same pipeline; one of the first things he thought of when he felt the boom.

“Technically I was aware of that when I moved in as well and it`s also far enough back from the house where even, I mean we definitely would have felt the heat, but it wouldn`t have any impact of anything close down into this house so I am not real worried about it,” he said.

A spokesperson for Mid-America Pipeline Company says it has a right of way agreement with landowners and specifically routes the equipment away from population centers to mitigate damage in case of an explosion like this.

Once Keller knew he and his family were safe, then they went out to take a closer look.

“That right there was about as close as we got, um, where you could just kind of see the top of it over the hill. And those trees and those hills are pretty big, so those flame have to be extremely high. I figured they had to be at least a hundred, a hundred feet or so,” he said.

The company spokesperson says there is still some residual gas burn off, so investigators have not been able to get down near the pipe. It may take weeks to figure out what caused this -- especially because sometimes the damaged pipe has to be torn apart and sent for testing.