ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) – Residents were allowed to return home after a natural gas line ruptured and ignited in the 5600 block of Enright Avenue, near Delmar Thursday afternoon.
The rupture occurred between 2:30 and 2:45 p.m. and the flames raged for the majority of the afternoon when crews were digging to repair a gas leak. It is believed that a spark ignited the gas and started the fire.
The nearby apartment complex was evacuated and the fire department doused nearby buildings to protect them from the blaze.
Fire officials decided to let the fire burn itself out rather than extinguish it for safety reasons.
“This is a control burn right now,” Captain Dan Sutter said mid-afternoon. “We are letting the fire burn and burn out the gases that is escaping. The alternative would be to extinguish it then that gas could free flow and cause an explosion.”
Nearby residents told News 4 they had been smelling gas for weeks leading up to Thursday’s gas line rupture.
A Laclede Gas spokesperson says the company received a call two weeks ago from a customer who smelled natural gas in the area, but it was determined to be a low-level leak that would not require an immediate fix. They added that the public was never at risk because of the leak.
Crews found a larger gas leak in the area after they received another complaint on Thursday.
At the height of the fire, flames reached 30-40 feet in the air. There were no injuries reported.