What happens when a natural gas pipeline explodes? It would be pretty accurate to say that all hell breaks loose. Natural gas is pumped through pipelines at very high pressures. The concentration of energy is truly awesome.
An article entitled "Like Ground Zero at a Nuclear Blast" in the April 4th issue of Newsweek describes a natural gas pipeline accident that occurred in 1994 in a New Jersey suburb.
The explosion blasted a crater 50-feet deep and sent flames 400-feet into the atmosphere. The column of fire roared like "a 747 jet" and was visible thirty miles away.
It took only ten minutes for the resulting firestorm to engulf eight buildings located 300 yards from the site of the explosion. Miraculously only one resident died - 28 were treated for burns and other injuries. The buildings were totally destroyed.
Cause: unknown. Since the explosion occured near midnight it's probably safe to assume that it was not a result of unauthorized digging in the vicinity of the pipeline.