HICKMAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) — Hundreds of Hickman County residents were forced to evacuate for several hours on Friday following an explosion at the Tennessee Gas Pipeline/Kinder Morgan facility.
“It’s very scary,” Lanell Wren told News 2.
The explosion happened around 8:20 a.m. on Friday, Aug. 18 at the gas plant along Highway 48 North in Nunnelly. Kinder Morgan said it was the result of an equipment failure.
Wren was out watering her garden at the time: “I just heard this big boom and I look up and you can see smoke, black smoke, going from over there at the gas plant, and then a few minutes later, there was three more booms and my house shook and it just sounded like a bomb went off.”
When first responders arrived at the scene, they found smoke and flames coming from one of the compressor buildings. More than a dozen emergency response agencies were called in to help with the situation.
“It blew up, it blew out the upper tiers of the walls on the upper side of the building,” said EMA Director Amanda Seigel.
Text message alerts were sent to residents in the area as members of the Hickman County Sheriff’s Office and the local police department went door to door, evacuating at least 200 people within a mile of the site.
Meanwhile, some community members gathered at the nearby grocery store where the road was blocked off.
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“Just sitting at the old grocery store,” said Billy Newell, who took off from the house without shoes while his mother, who lives nearby, had to leave her pets behind.
Down the street, others took shelter at the Fairfield Church of Christ, one of two facilities that opened for evacuated residents.
Even though the explosion rocked the neighborhood, there is a sense of relief that nobody was injured.
“Oh it could have been a whole lot worse…The whole community could be gone,” said Patricia White, who also had to evacuate her home.
According to Kinder Morgan, one employee was taken to the hospital with symptoms not directly related to the explosion, but they have since been discharged. Meanwhile, the six employees who were on site during the incident have been accounted for.
Officials said they will conduct cleanup activities and develop a repair plan once it’s safe to access the site. The investigation into the cause of the explosion is still ongoing.