SUMMERFIELD The natural gas pipeline that exploded Monday in rural Noble County was part of the Texas Eastern Transmission system built in the early 1950s.

Enbridge Inc., the Canadian energy company that owns Texas Eastern Transmission, released a statement saying an internal inspection of the pipeline was performed in 2012 and "no remediation was needed."

The explosion and resulting fire injured one person, destroyed three homes and caused damage to three additional homes and the surrounding terrain, including Smithberger Road.

"It was a 30-inch line that has been in that location for several years," the Noble County Emergency Management Agency said in a news release. "United Ambulance treated and transported one injured resident from the scene to a local hospital where that resident received treatment for minor burns."

The Noble County Sheriff's Office responded to several reports received at approximately 10:40 a.m. Monday trying to narrow down the exact location as the Caldwell, Summerfield and Lewisville fire departments responded to the scene.

"The fire departments worked with companies in the area to identify the impacted line, and they spent several hours fighting secondary fires, including three homes," the Noble County EMA said. "They were able to clear the scene by approximately 5 p.m." No firefighters were injured.

The Noble County EMA and Office of Homeland Security contacted the families to ensure they had housing arrangements. The American Red Cross also was on standby to provide needed services for affected families.

Investigation begins

Regulators and state-level emergency response teams will investigate the cause of the explosion, which was felt for miles around the scene.

A resident near Caldwell said pictures fell from a wall in her home.

"Our house shook so bad, things came off the walls," Trina Moore said. "It shook for about 15 seconds, but it felt like forever. All of the neighbors ran outside."

Scanner traffic from emergency responders in Noble County indicated the ground was shaking after the explosion.

Flames from the fire in the gas line were estimated to reach 80 feet high, according to a Noble County sheriff's sergeant.

Agencies expected to play roles include the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, State Fire Marshal's Office and Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. PUCO acts as an agent for the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, which has final jurisdiction over interstate pipelines.

Smithberger Road remained closed due to road damage and the need to secure the area for safety and continued assessment in the daylight. Motorists are asked to avoid the area.

Safety record

In a statement after the explosion, officials with Calgary-based Enbridge said, "Our first concern is for the safety of the community and our employees. We have activated our emergency response plan and are cooperating with authorities in our response. There was a fire, which has been contained, and residents within the proximity of the incident have been evacuated."

Texas Eastern Transmission comprises almost 9,100 miles of pipeline that connect Texas and the Gulf Coast to Ohio, the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic. Enbridge took ownership of Texas Eastern Transmission when it acquired Houston-based Spectra Energy in February 2017.

Enbridge said the pipeline section that exploded in Noble County was installed in 1952 and 1953. Other sections of the Texas Eastern Transmission system are newer.

Between 2010 and November of last year, the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration logged 33 "significant" incidents on the Texas Eastern Transmission system. For PHMSA to classify an incident as "significant" it must have caused a death, an injury requiring hospitalization or at least $50,000 in costs, as measured in 1984 dollars.

Two incidents on the Texas Eastern Transmission system since 2010 have caused injuries requiring hospitalization.

In April 2012, a pipeline employee was injured during an incident at a compressor station in Marietta, Pa.

Four years later, a 30-inch pipeline installed in 1981 ruptured in Westmoreland County, Pa., causing an explosion and fire. One person was injured and 12 members of the general public were evacuated.

The 2016 incident cost $3.5 million, in current dollars, including property damage and the value of the released natural gas. An analysis of the steel pipeline showed corrosion, according to PHMSA.

Matt Hammond, executive vice president of the Ohio Oil and Gas Association, said in a statement, "Our thoughts and prayers are with the family during this difficult time. We are joining with industry partners to help the family and ensure their immediate needs are being met. We salute the first responders for their quick reaction and thank them for protecting human safety and the environment. The industry is waiting on the results of the pending investigation for the cause of this incident."

Industry opponents said they were concerned about pipeline safety.

"Enough is enough; it’s time that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the state of Ohio put the health and safety of people before the corporate profits," said Teresa Mills of the Buckeye Environmental Network. "We also want to thank our first responders for taking on this deadly task for the second time this year."

Rick Stallion of the Daily-Jeffersonian and Shane Hoover of The Canton Repository contributed to this report.