Gas explosion south of Bakersfield kills one, two injured

By Claudia Rodriguez


A massive gas line explosion and fire south of Bakersfield left one person dead and three others injured.

The blast happened at 3:30 p.m. Friday, in the area of Wible Road and Houghton Road, just west of the 99 Freeway.

A huge fireball with flames shooting 200 feet into the air.

KGET viewer, Kristin Morgan, sent us this video moments after the explosion that could be felt  several miles away.

“All of a sudden you hear this real loud winding noise, boom.  Flames.  Seen the tractor turn over on its side. Instantly the windows of my truck were vibrating and the heat it was bad it was real real hot, real real fast,” said Dennis Wilson who was working nearby.

Kern County fire says a 36-inch gas line was pierced by a third party using heavy equipment in the area, touching off this massive explosion.

“When I arrived on scene I was quite close to the fire but it sounded like I was standing next to a jet airplane, it was extremely loud lot of fire,” said Captain Tom Ellison with the Kern County Fire Department.

PG&E spokeswoman, Katie Allen, said “On all transmission pipelines are markers that indicate that the pipeline is there.  You will always see those.  We also encourage anyone doing a digging project, it’s actually required by law, that you call 811 to fully understand the utilities that are underground before doing any digging project.  And this individual and this company did not have a tag to do any digging in that area.”

The person operating the equipment was killed.

Two women in a nearby home, Gloria Ruckman and Amalia Leal, reportedly suffered second and third degree burns and are being treated at San Joaquin Community Hospital.  Ruckman’s three-week-old son was also in the home, but family members say she wrapped him in a jacket so he was not hurt.

The fire also destroyed a barn and lots of vegetation, burning for about 30 minutes.

PG&E said it shut off gas in the area within four minutes of the blast.

The California Public Utilities Commission says it’s sending investigators to the scene.

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