January 25, 2014 6:09 pm
Updated: January 26, 2014 10:25 am

Pipeline blast sends fireball into sky near Otterburne

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Video shot by Jason Thompson.

Early Saturday morning an explosion rocked communities in southern Manitoba.

The TransCanada Natural Gas pipeline exploded around 1 a.m. Saturday to the surprise of locals.

“I was up late and just happened to notice that half the sky was orange so I was looking around to see what was going on and then I could see over top of the trees towards the south there were huge flames shooting up, looked like hundreds of feet into the air, it was quite spectacular,” said area resident Allan Sawatzky.

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Investigators from TransCanada are still investigating the cause of the explosion at this time but they can confirm the fire was extinguished by 2 p.m. Saturday. The company will be providing gas to care homes and hospitals as well as schools and churches being used as warming centres.

RCMP say there were no injuries but they did evacuate five homes as a precaution and they are still monitoring the situation. “TransCanada Pipeline has advised they have isolated the pipe and the burning gas is non-toxic,” said Tara Seel, RCMP Media Relations Officer

Manitoba Hydro was restored power to the over 300 homes left in the dark since the blast except for three. Still, over 4,000 people in nine Manitoba communities are either experiencing a natural gas shortage or a complete outage, they include:

-New Bothwell

-Niverville

-Otterburne

-Kleefeld

-St-Pierre-Jolys

-Grunthal

-St. Malo

-Dufrost

-Ste. Agathe

Officials from Niverville are reminding residents to be cautious of the situation. “Our emergency personnel have been activated, we’re also asking our residents to try and conserve electric power as much as they can, said Myron Dyck, Niverville Public Information Officer.

Local stores are selling out of heaters quickly, leaving one store owner hoping for the best.

“I’m hoping people have big families or can get hotels in Winnipeg but it will be some nervous times for 24 to 96 hours they say,” said store owner Carl Fast.

Manitoba Hydro expects the outage to last at least one day. It recommends those affected drain their hot water tanks to prevent frozen water lines. Here are more tips on what to do in the event of a service disruption: http://www.hydro.mb.ca/safety/natural_gas/disruption.shtml

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