A massive fire erupted last week when a natural gas pipeline exploded in Refugio, TX, roughly 160 miles southwest of Houston. According to authorities, the explosion took place shortly after midnight on Wednesday February 15th, less than a mile away from 427 FM Rd 774. Nearby residents from over 50 miles away reported hearing the loud blast and feeling vibrations in their home. The subsequent fire, which sent flames more than 200 feet into the air, was also seen by communities across the area, including some as far as 150 miles away.
The natural gas pipeline which exploded was located in a rural area of Refugio on ranch land, officials report. It was owned and controlled by Kinder Morgan, Inc., one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in the nation. Based in Houston, Kinder Morgan owns and operates numerous oil and gas pipelines and terminals, many of which are located in Texas.
After reports of the blast and fire started pouring in, Kinder Morgan immediately shut down the section of ruptured pipeline so that emergency crews could respond to the scene, according to company officials. As of yet, no injuries have been reported, but given the size of the blast and its force, officials say there could potentially be local residents who were harmed, or who suffered damaged property. State regulators from the Texas Railroad Commission, the agency which oversees oil and gas operations, will be conducting an investigation to determine what caused the pipeline to rupture and explode.
It is extremely fortunate that an explosion and fire of this magnitude did not cause injuries or widespread damage, which may be partly due to the rural location of the pipeline. As past events have made clear, oil and gas facilities and industrial plants can cause devastating consequences to local residents, homes, and businesses. This was precisely the case when an explosion occurred at a fertilizer company storage and distribution facility in West, Texas. In that tragic incident, 15 victims were killed, over 160 injured, and more than 150 local buildings were destroyed or damaged.
Because oil and gas and industrial operations present many hazards to our communities, state and federal agencies heavily regulate these industries to ensure that the general public can be kept safe from preventable harm. While the Refugio pipeline explosion and other incidents across the country in past years have helped highlight the dangers posed by energy companies and other industrial operations, these types of explosions, fires, and accidents still continue to happen. For many activists, these are signs that regulations, as well as enforcement of those regulations, needs to be enhanced in order to ensure the safety of workers and the general public.
Officials are still looking into what caused last week’s explosion in Refugio, but due to historical data that shows many explosions being caused by safety violations and negligence, investigators will likely pay close attention to whether the pipeline met established requirements and whether Kinder Morgan was operating in accordance to the law. Should it be discovered that they failed to uphold their legal duty of operating safely and complying with regulations, the company can be held accountable for any damages victims sustained as a result of the explosion and fire.
The Daspit Law Firm is comprised of an experienced team of Houston personal injury attorneys who help the injured and the wronged after they suffer damages in preventable incidents. This includes helping victims of oil and gas explosions, plant accidents, chemical exposure, and fires. If you or someone you love has been injured in the Refugio pipeline explosion or have suffered damages in any other incident, contact our team to discuss your legal rights during a free consultation.