Monday, January 10, 2011

Explosion

At 3:20am, Saturday December 6, 1986, residents near the Barnett Reservoir were awakened by a thunderous blast.

A 30 inch natural gas pipe line under Pelahatchie Bay exploded near the water's edge on the north shore of the bay.

These pictures of the fire were taken near the Audubon Point boat landing, about 1 1/2 miles from the site of the explosion.

The north side of Pelahatchie Bay was sparsely populated at the time and, amazingly, there were no serious injuries or property damage.

The blast was so intense that is set off sensors in a U. S. Department of Defense satellite 22,000 miles above the Earth. The satellite notified officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency who called the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency on a special telephone line to find out what was causing the intense heat.

Dusty Perkins, spokesman for MEMA at the time, said the glow of the fire was so bright that airline pilots flying near Houston, TX and Nashville, TN reported seeing it.

Crews from the pipe line owner, United Gas Pipe Line Co. of Houston, TX, shut off valves to the north and south of the explosion around 5:00am. The fire eventually burned itself out at 6:45am.

Most of the pipeline was built in 1952, the 30 inch section that ruptured was built in 1961-62. A spokesman for United Gas said that the line was used to move natural gas from the Gulf of Mexico to a system in Kosciusko, from there it was routed all over the south.


The photo above shows the explosion site as it looks today, it's about 250 ft from Northshore Parkway. Homes from the Windward Oaks subdivision can be seen at the left of the photo. Northshore Village would be to the right.


Flames were estimated to reach heights of 700 ft and prompted the FAA to restrict aircraft from flying below 7000 ft within a two mile radius of the blast.

Officials said the cause of the blast was likely a "mechanical malfunction", one speculated that shifting Yazoo clay could have caused a stress crack in the line.  The line had pressures from 600 to 900 pounds per square inch and a leak would immediately ignite due to the friction of escaping gas.

If you have any special memories of the event please share them in the comments section.

Note:  click on any of the photos to enlarge

Information for this article (excluding photos) was compiled from Clarion Ledger/Jackson Daily News articles on Dec. 7-8 1986 written by Grace Simmons, Dewey English, Leesha Cooper and Jeff Copeskey.

The Rez News
Ross Barnett Reservoir

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was in Madison and the eplosion rocked my house. We thught a jet had crashed. My front door vibrated from the roar.We drove and drove towards the flam and finally ended up at hobbie beach and watched in amazement the roaring flame!

Anonymous said...

I was living in Bellegrove subdivision at the Reservoir at the time. We had several sliding glass doors and they all rattled for quite a while. Everyone in the neighborhood woke up and we were all outside trying to figure it out. Everyone was calling around . . . it was something. It was after the explosion that that side of the Rez began to populate. That road was still Fannin Landing Circle and everyone considered themselves residents of "Fannin" - that's where I'm from.

Anonymous said...

I was on the rez fire dept at that time. The heat was so intense, the fire trucks could not even get within 500 yards. We had Jackson, flowood, dam near every fire dept in the area responding to this just to see what it was.

Anonymous said...

We lived in Castlewoods with two small children and the closet doors rattled and the house shook. We thought it was a plane crash. Later we learned what had happened. Never forgot it after all this time.

Anonymous said...

I was 6 or 7 yrs old and lived in Harbor Pines. Everyone was evacuating because they thought a plane had crashed into the dam. It was utter chaos and to this day I can't stand the song "Stand by Me". That was the song playing on the radio when we were trying to leave the neighborhood. I was so hysterical my mother actually slapped me. Funny looking back and remembering, but scary while it was happening.

Anonymous said...

When that pipeline blew, my family and I were living in a mobile home on Flowood Dr, right behind River Oaks Hosp. My youngest daughter was a tiny baby, just about two weeks old, and I had been up all night with her. About the time I was getting back to sleep, this explosion went off. The windows rattled and I could hear and feel this impact, like nothing I've ever heard before. I thought it was a plane or a train crash (we lived very near the airport and a train track was behind our place at the time.

Anonymous said...

We were living in Bellegrove. My husband was supposed to go duck hunting that morning with some neighbors. The neighbor called - early for the hunt - and asked if he was ready to go. About that time I realized that the "airplane" going over us was not going anywhere - I screamed and asked what was going on. Then our neighbor said, 'we're not going hunting - a gas line exploded where we were going to put in!' It was scary ... looked like it was broad daylight outside. MS Valley Gas turned off our gas (I think) so we ended up leaving for the day. About a week or so later, my husband and friends were hunting near there and he locked his keys in his car. A man from across the road from the explosion said yeah - he heard it. He jumped in his car and left - He stopped in Fannin and put his pants on!

Anonymous said...

I too was on the fire dept that morning, trying to get to the station and not hitting anyone of the numerous people running down Swallow Drive. After the fire had burn itself out, that area look like a sceen from Mars. The land was a reddish color, baked reddish color and the very botton of the hole there was about a foot of water. I will always remember that and that night.

Anonymous said...

I lived in South Jackson at the time near the intersection of Raymond Rd and Ellis Ave.
Something woke me up that night and when I looked out the window I thought the gas station a block away was on fire, I had no idea the flames I saw were actually 20 miles away! The blast is obviously what woke me up.

Anonymous said...

We lived in Natchez Trace Village. It sounded like a jet had landed in the front yard. The windows were rattling and shaking. I've never since experienced anything like that.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking the date is incorrect on this report. My daughter was born at woman's hospital on December 3rd and she and my wife were home in Ridgeland by December 5th. I was at home alone with our oldest child when I awoke and heard my windows rattling. It was a very cold night, so I bundled up our two-year old and drove out Rice Rd. toward Madison Landing. The whole sky was pulsating orange. We've always teased our daughter that she came into the world with a bang.

The Rez News said...

We went back to the file and reviewed the Clarion Ledger articles used as reference for our article. They were published Sunday, Dec. 7th and Monday, Dec. 8th. The articles stated the blast occurred "early Saturday morning" which would have been Dec. 6, 1986.

TRN

Mississippi Fiduciary said...

I stand corrected. I guess they came home that day. Oh well, I remember it well (other than the date).

Anonymous said...

I will never forget when this happened. I was a teenager and I awoke to the house shaking and a loud noise like an explosion. The house rattled for a while like an earthquake. I looked outside and the entire sky was red and completely lit up. It was so scary and we did not have access to immediate information like the Internet so there was much speculation as to what caused this. I will never forget this but I had forgotten the date and the cause.

Windy Cape said...

I was 9 when this happened, we lived on 471@fannin across from the old fannin mart restaurant. I remember hearing the loud boom and the windows and pictures rattling and we looked outside and the sky was bright red, my parents first thought was the world was coming to a end, like everyone else we got in our car and drove to find what was going on, people stopped us and told us a plane had crashed, we were all freaking out then as we got closer to the fire they stopped us and blocked off the road and said a gas well had blew. I remember sitting there watching it for hours and Ms103 playing there's a fire in the night by Alabama over and over. Something I will never ever forget

Stephanie said...

I lived in Traceland North and heard the roar and felt the vibration of the blast. I was 12 years old and remember loading up in the car to seek out what had happened!