An explosion at the Williams Companies Inc plant in Opal, Wyoming has caused the natural gas-processing plant to shut down and the town of Opal to be evacuated.
The blast occurred around 2 p.m., but the fire continued to burn into the evening. Opal is located about 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, Utah. The residents of Opal were told to travel at least 3 miles from town to ensure their own safety.
"They were downwind from the plant," said Lincoln County Sheriff Shane Johnson. "The fire was still very active, and because of the nature of the processing that goes on there, that was the call that was made for safety reasons."
42 people work at the plant and all of them were accounted for after the explosion and none of them were injured. The Lincoln County Sheriff's Department confirmed that the fire had been contained to one area of the plant. Highways near the plant were shut down and a shelter was created outside of town for the evacuees.
Many people shared photos of the explosion and fire on Twitter.
BREAKING: Entire town of Opal, Wyoming has been evacuated after a massive gas plant explosion. pic.twitter.com/5zKLlUyZDt
— N. Jerzy Fire Alert (@NJerzyFireAlert) April 23, 2014
— KSL 5 TV (@KSL5TV) April 23, 2014
— enet view (@enetview1) November 23, 2013
There have been numerous concerns over the safety of the pipeline that runs to the plant. There have been several other fires and explosions at other plants and similar pipelines across the country. Many regulators are concerned with the safety of these pipelines and wonder how they will hold up as the country's output of oil and gas increases to meet demands.
Once the fire department is able to put out the blaze, investigators will work to determine the cause of the fire. Once the area is considered safe, the residents of Opal will be able to return to their homes.
What do you think caused the explosion?
Image via Wikimedia Commons