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WASHINGTONPARISH, La. - A pre-dawn gas line explosion shook residents out of their beds in a rural area of Washington Parish near the community of Enon.

The incident, which occurred around 5:45 a.m. on Lee Road, spurred on evacuations and road closures near the site.

'We've evacuated around 55 people,' Washington Parish Sheriff Randy Seal said. 'There has been no fatalities; no one died; there's no injuries.'

The amount of scorched earth near the explosion made it appear as if a bomb was detonated, Seal said.

An approximate 80-foot segment of the pipeline was blown away, causing a nearly 300-foot heavily-wooded radius to be completely leveled, according to Louisiana State Police Trooper Nick Manale.

Florida Gas, who owns the line, shut down the gas line around 6:45 a.m.

Seal said the company released more gas in an attempt to get the remaining 'residual gas out of the pipeline. So you may be hearing a few more explosions, but nothing serious is going to happen.'

'Crews have isolated and contained the west end of that pipeline, basically the ignition source is now gone from that pipeline, and all of the residual natural gas has been drained,' Manale said.
He said there is still a small amount of ignition aflame on the east side coming from the Bogalusa area. Crews are working to drain the pressure and residual gas out of the segment.

The report from the Louisiana State Police and Department of Environmental Quality Hazmat indicated the suspected cause of the explosion was a rupture of a 30-inch natural gas line, according to the Governor's Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. The cause of the explosion remained under investigation.

Eyewitnesses called the WWL-TV newsroom to report they heard the blast around 5:30 a.m. Viewers reported a bright orange light in the sky and a funny smell in the area.

A mobile home that was about 300 feet form the explosion received some damage. The vinyl melted off the trailer, but the windows remained intact. 'It was occupied, but those folks got out OK,' Seal said.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area until the all-clear is given, Manale said.

About 10,000 residents lost power due to the explosion. Those experiencing power outages should call the Washington-St. Tammany Electrical Cooperative at 1-866-672-9773.

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