UPDATED: Explosion Lights Up Sky Near Tioga; No Injuries Reported

TIOGA, N.D. – A natural gas pipeline that ruptured south of Tioga caused an explosion and fire that lit up the sky Monday evening but no injuries were reported.

When the Tioga Fire Department received a report of the explosion sometime after 8:30 p.m. Monday, the orange glow south of town was visible for miles.

“We knew we had a pretty big incident going on at that time,” said Randall Pederson, a
member of the volunteer department who served as the incident commander.

In a brief statement issued Tuesday, Hiland Partners said a natural gas pipeline ruptured and caused the fire about six miles south of Tioga in northwest North Dakota.

The pipeline that ruptured was an above-ground natural gas gathering line and the fire was contained to property owned by Hiland Partners, according to the North Dakota Department of Health and the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

Firefighters set up a staging area about a half-mile away from the blaze while law enforcement blocked off traffic, Pederson said. Firefighters allowed the gas to burn off and remained on scene until the fire was extinguished about 10 p.m., Pederson said.

“Being in the middle of the Oil Patch, we have a department that is accustomed to these kinds of fires,” Pederson said. “We know when we can fight them and we know when we should be defensive.”

The pipeline had automatic shut-off valves that kicked in after the pipeline ruptured, said Brian Kalk, chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, which looked into the incident Tuesday.

“Once the initial gas burned off, that was the end of the incident,” Kalk said.

Because the pipeline is a smaller gathering line and the fire was contained to the company’s system, Hiland Partners will lead the investigation into the cause of the fire and report back to state agencies, Kalk said.

The North Dakota Department of Health also responded to the incident. The volume of natural gas lost has not been estimated, said Kris Roberts of the Division of Water Quality. No liquids were spilled and the amount of damage to property and equipment was minimal, Roberts said.