Explosion injures five people

Published 11:42 pm Monday, October 31, 2016

At least five people are reported injured after what’s being described as an explosion that sent flames soaring over the forest in a rural part of Alabama.

Video from area media shows a huge plume of flame and smoke rising in a wooded area in Shelby County southwest of Birmingham. It’s unclear exactly what exploded, but gas lines run through the area.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said in a brief statement that his office is monitoring what he described as an explosion and said his office is receiving updates from state and local authorities.

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“Pray for workers, rescue personnel,” Bentley said in the statement.

Several fire departments are sending crews to assist, and media reports say at least five people were hurt and headed to a hospital. Helena police say they’re assisting Shelby County authorities with a pipeline fire.

The explosion happened in a remote area outside the town of Helena, away from residential areas, Helena Mayor Mark told WBRC-TV of Birmingham. He said there are high-pressure gas lines in the area but had no details on what caused the explosion.

In September, a pipeline leaked thousands of gallons of gas southwest of Birmingham near Helena, but there’s no immediate indication of a connection between the leak and the fire.