Cumberland Times-News

Local News

January 28, 2013

Witness describes horrific W.Va. pipeline inferno

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — To Sue Bonham, it was as if the world were coming to an end: A wall of flame had suddenly engulfed her West Virginia neighborhood. Amid a deafening roar, objects began crashing through her ceiling. Her home began melting around her and a nearby house, her step-daughter’s, collapsed in a heap of ashes.

An intense, suffocating heat prevented the Sissonville woman from fleeing her home. She thought of escaping to her in-ground pool — learning later that the flames had driven its water to deadly, scalding temperatures.

“(I was) thinking the earth would open up at any moment and swallow me,” Bonham told a Monday field hearing of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee. The chairman, West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller, held the hearing in his state’s capital city.

The apocalypse Bonham witnessed was a natural gas pipeline explosion. A 1960s-era section of underground pipe had lost 70 percent of its thickness to outside corrosion. It ruptured around 12:41 p.m. on Dec. 11, triggering an inferno that ran the length of nearly four football fields along the pipeline and radiated out by around 840 feet.

The blast hurled a 20-foot section of pipe more than 40 feet. No one was killed or seriously injured. But the explosion and resulting fireball destroyed four homes and charred a stretch of Interstate 77 less than 113 feet away.

Rockefeller convened the hearing seeking lessons from the blast and other recent mishaps.

With his fellow West Virginian, Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, Rockefeller heard from government officials, an executive with Sissonville pipeline operator Columbia Gas Transmission and a watchdog group’s founder.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • Kona Ice owners dole out treats, give back to the community Kona Ice owners dole out treats, give back to the community

    CUMBERLAND — In addition to serving tasty treats and putting a smile on patrons’ faces, Oakland residents Wheeler Stewart and Jeff Orr, owners/operators of Kona Ice Mountain Maryland, do their part to give back to Allegany and Garrett counties. The number one theme of Kona Ice is that if you give it back, it’s going to come back to you, said Stewart.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 2.jpg New 'very eclectic' business opens in Cumberland

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Advocates call for expansion of summer lunch program

    CUMBERLAND — It’s the first year that St. John’s Lutheran Church on Arch Street has participated in the summer lunch program for children. The Rev. Tormod Svensson, the pastor at the church, said that while the church has offered food programs before, this is the first time they’ve been officially part of the Summer Food Service Program.

    July 23, 2014

  • Two face additional charges in child’s death

    MOOREFIELD, W.Va. — West Virginia State Police have served arrest warrants on Joseph A. Christy and Summer L. McDaniel in the case of their 26-day-old infant’s death.

    July 23, 2014

  • Helping others Helping others

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commissioners set to vote on plan

    CUMBERLAND — Allegany County commissioners are scheduled Thursday to vote on the 266-page, 2014 Allegany County Comprehensive Plan. The portion of the plan that has stirred some controversy is the inclusion of the Terrapin Run Development. If commissioners approve the plan, the development will be an official part of the county’s land use development plan for the future.

    July 23, 2014

  • Iron Rail Street fire Faulty electrical outlet sparks Mount Savage fire

    MOUNT SAVAGE — Tuesday’s fire that caused an estimated $30,000 property loss in a residence on Iron Rail Street has been determined to be accidental, according to the Maryland State Fire Marshal’s Office.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • In Brief - 07/24

    July 23, 2014

  • Frostburg to use ARC grant for Braddock Road improvements

    FROSTBURG — The city of Frostburg will use a $1.275 million federal grant to improve access to a 25-plus acre site that is available for commercial and industrial development, according to an announcement by U.S. Sens. Ben Cardin and Barbara Mikulski.

    July 23, 2014

  • Shooting suspects arrested at Altoona mall

    July 23, 2014