Illinois pipeline blast sends flames 300 feet in the air

A fuel pipeline traveling underneath a western Illinois cornfield exploded, sending flames 300 feet into the sky and prompting dozens of evacuations.

Huge fire from Aug. 12, 2013 pipeline explosion in Erie, Ill. could be seen from miles away (WHBF-TV)

ERIE, Ill. (CBS) -- A fuel pipeline traveling underneath a western Illinois cornfield exploded, sending flames 300 feet into the sky and prompting dozens of evacuations.

Erie Assistant Fire Chief Scott Melton says the massive fire was reported around 11:15 p.m. Monday after residents heard a blast.

The towering flames could be seen for 20 miles, Melton told CBS News.

The pipeline was carrying a mixture of ethane and propane.

About 80 families living within a mile radius of the fire were evacuated, but by Tuesday morning all but two families had been allowed back home.

Melton says crews are waiting for the remaining gas to burn off and says workers with the pipeline owner, Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners, were investigating what caused the fire.

Enterprise shut down valves remotely, diverting the fuel to other locations, Melton says. The flames were only a few feet high early Tuesday.

No one was injured.

Erie is 27 miles northeast of Davenport, Iowa.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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