HOT SPRINGS -- Residents in the Jessieville area were evacuated early Wednesday evening after a natural gas transmission line ruptured, forcing the closure of Arkansas 298 and sending a plume of flame 200 to 300 feet in the air.
Garland County Department of Emergency Management Director Bo Robertson said the break was off West Main Haul Road, near Arkansas 298. No injuries had been reported at press time. Robertson said the evacuation area extends up to 1 mile from the site of the rupture.
"We went knocking on houses, telling people to leave," Robertson said from the scene. "It's bad enough that common sense took over, and a lot of them left on their accord."
According to the National Pipeline Mapping System, Enable Gas Transmission LLC operates the line.
According to Garland County sheriff Sgt. John Schroeder, around 4:45 p.m., the Garland county communication center received a call of a pipeline explosion in about the 1400 block of Arkansas 298.
"Currently, there are no injuries to report and evacuations have taken place from approximately the thousand block of Highway 298 to Harding Road on Highway 298," he said.
Evacuees were being directed to go to the Jessieville High School safe room for a place to stay until the fire was contained.
Arkansas 298 was shut down to through travel, as there was an active plume of fire, 200 to 300 feet high, contained to the gas pipeline. No structures are involved although one is close to the explosion area, but is currently being protected by Jessieville Fire Department.
Schroeder noted Enable Gas personnel were on scene working to shut the line down and as of shortly after 6:30 p.m. had the south end closed and "are trying to get the north end closed."
Agencies who responded to the incident included the Jessieville, Fountain Lake, Piney and Buckville fire departments, the Garland County sheriff's office, both patrol and investigators, Arkansas State Police, Garland County Office of Emergency Management, LifeNet, Arkansas State Parks, the Arkansas Forestry Commission and a Mountain Pine School Resource Officer.