Kentucky Gas Line Explosion Destroys Homes, Injures 2

A natural gas explosion this morning in Adair County Ky., destroyed two nearby homes and sent two people to the hospital, officials told ABC News.

The underground gas line exploded at around 1 a.m., leaving a crater in the ground 60 feet deep by 50 feet wide, according to county EMA director Greg Thomas. Three homes caught fire and two of them were completely destroyed, along with barns and cars, Thomas said.

Approximately 20 homes were evacuated Thursday while officials declared a state of emergency for Adair County. All residents whose homes were not damaged or destroyed by the explosion were allowed to return to their houses later in the afternoon, Thomas said.

One person was transported to a local hospital with burns and another was brought to the hospital for evaluation, said Thomas. Both were later released and are currently residing with relatives.

Jason Rector was at the scene of the explosion this morning with a group of American Red Cross volunteers delivering food and support to emergency workers and victims whose houses were involved.

Area fire departments, police and emergency responders also were lending support.

"We didn't get up close to the crater because there were still flames shooting several feet in the air," Rector said. "They had got the pipeline shut off in both directions, but the excess gas remaining in the pipe was still burning when I left."

The line, about 20 feet underground, is owned by Columbia Gulf Transmission and runs from the Gulf of Mexico to New York.

A statement from the company said it is not known yet what caused the explosion. It had shut off gas flow to the damaged part of the line and sent trained crew members to assist with securing the scene alongside emergency workers to ensure the safety of residents in the area.

"The gas company is taking charge of the clean-up and determination of what happened," Thomas said. "They will have engineers to send the pipes off to determine what happened. It's a process that's going to be happening for a while."

The roadways around the site have also since reopened and Thomas expects the state of emergency will be lifted on Friday morning.

Michael Clinkscales, a student at Lindsey Wilson College, was with his fiancee Kaitlyn Davis when the explosion happened. Their photographs -- taken about 20 miles away from the site of the explosion -- showed the night sky illuminated by bright flames.

Adair County is located in south-central Kentucky.

ABC News' Don Ennis and Ben Gittleson, and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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