Natural gas pipeline explodes in southeastern Manitoba

When Eveline Wiebe was jolted awake early Saturday morning by a natural gas explosion and giant fireball down the highway, she wondered if the apocalypse was upon her.

“Wow, is the end of the world or something?,” she said from her farmhouse near Otterburne, located about 30 minutes south of Winnipeg.

The mother of four young children quickly roused her husband, Feterly, and while they were taking in the spectacle from their kitchen window, the power went out.

“I was half-asleep but I was in shock. When my husband looked out the window, he was in shock, too,” she said, noting her kids — Debby, 7, Anndy, 6, Tommy, 4, Larry 2 — slept through the whole ordeal.

They tried calling 911 but got a busy signal and when they rang the police, nobody answered.

They wondered whether they should prepare to evacuate but once police cruisers were spotted on the highway, they decided to stay put until they got a knock on the door. They didn’t.

While his wife grabbed her camera and started snapping a few pictures, Feterly Wiebe quickly ran out to his barn to start his generator so he could keep his 9,000 chickens warm.

“If the barn goes cold, we would have had mortality with the birds,” he said.

RCMP said Trans-Canada Pipeline advised them the fire originated from a natural gas pipeline and the burning gas was non-toxic.

Five houses within the vicinity of the fire were evacuated by RCMP and St-Pierre-Jolys Fire Department. The cause of the explosion is under investigation but it’s too early to say if it was accidental or deliberate.

The roads into town were blocked off at the highway by RCMP cruisers. An officer said a command post had been set up in town but the roads wouldn’t be opened up until the fire commissioner had determined the area was safe.

“My guess is it will be much later this afternoon,” he said.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/local/Natural-gas-pipeline-explodes–241954821.html

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