The Fort Bend County Office of Homeland Security & Emergency Management says the pipeline explosion that occurred late Thursday morning is still under investigation.
A spokesperson for the emergency office said the fire was put out after the flow to the pipeline was cut off, allowing the blaze to extinguish itself. The fire in a rural field burned for at least two hours before stopping.
Officials gave an “all clear” at around noon for residents who were evacuated. No injuries were reported as a result of the fire or explosion.
According to Fort Bend Precinct 1 Constable Chad Norvell, the pipeline was a natural gas line.
The pipeline belongs to Energy Transfer, a Dallas-based energy company that donates heavily to Republican candidates.
Wesley Wittig, executive assistant district attorney the Fort Bend County District Attorney’s Office, told the Signal the office does have the authority to prosecute environmental crimes, but at this time it is too early to tell if there was any criminal conduct.
Chemical disasters in neighboring Harris County have been taken to court in recent years, in some cases reaching settlements with major oil & gas companies.
A 2016 Houston Chronicle investigation found the Houston area suffers a hazardous material-related disaster — either toxic releases, fires, or explosions — every six weeks.
Last year, the Lone Star State saw 72 “pipeline incidents” (including explosions), causing two fatalities and costing $37.6 million in damages, federal data shows. Since 2002, Texas has seen 1,252 pipeline incidents totalling more than $920 million in damage costs.
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org