POCASSET — Three people were injured this morning, one seriously, in a natural gas pipeline explosion near Pocasset.
Grady County Sheriff Art Kell said the pipeline belongs to Enogex LLC, a subsidiary of OG&E. The explosion occurred while one man was working at a valve, bleeding moisture from a 24-inch line. Two other workers pulled him from the flames after the explosion, Grady County Deputy Sheriff Roy Spratt said.
Robert Mitchum, 46, of Minco, was taken from the scene by helicopter to Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City with burns to about 50 percent of his body. He was admitted to the Integris Burn Unit for treatment, Integris spokeswoman Brooke Cayot said.
Cayot said Mitchum was listed in serious condition late this afternoon with burns concentrated on the upper torso, arms and head. She said Mitchum also suffered a broken femur that will require surgery.
The other injured men — Danny Fulton, 59, and Kevin Venable, 32, both of Grady County — were taken to Integris by ambulance with minor burns. Cayot said Venable was treated for his injuries and released and Fulton is being kept there overnight for observation.
Kell said calls about the explosion came in shortly before 11 a.m. today and first responders were on the scene within 15 minutes. Grady County District Fire Chief Richard Bennett said the gas company shut off the flow of gas, and the fire was under control shortly after noon.
Bennett said Enogex was letting the remaining gas bleed out of the line and burn off before the investigation into the cause of the explosion could be completed.
OG&E spokesman Brian Alford said it was difficult to estimate how long that might take.
"At this point, all we know is that we had a crew doing maintenance on a line west of Pocasset when the explosion occurred,"
Alford said. "Until the residual gas bleeds out, we won't be able to get in there to determine what happened."
The explosion occurred in a pasture 5 miles west Pocasset on C.R. Road 1260, which is along U.S. 81 between Chickasha and Minco in Grady County.
Kell said the explosion shot flames into the air that could be seen from as far away as Chickasha, almost 15 miles south of Pocasset. The explosion left a crater in the ground and scorched about an acre of grass as well as damaging three vehicles. The nearest house to the explosion is about a half-mile away.
Kell said county responders train for pipeline incidents and praised the response to Tuesday's explosion.
"Gas companies have been very proactive getting us ready on what we have to do in these situations," Kell said. "We handle traffic flow on the perimeter, the fire department handles the fire and the injured and the company handles getting the gas flow cut off. It worked like it was supposed to."
Contributing: Staff Writer Robert Medley