Gas Explosion, Evacuations Ordered

8-20-04 - MOSS BLUFF, Texas (AP) A huge flaming plume of gas from an underground gas storage site near Houston, Texas has prompted widened evacuations.

Officials in Moss Bluff say everyone within a three mile radius of the facility has been ordered to leave. A Duke Energy spokesman says a superheated valve gave way Friday morning, causing a spectacular flare.

An explosion early Thursday prompted a one-mile radius evacuation zone in the community outside Houston. Witnesses say the flare visible 20 miles away.

Officials say leaking gas triggered the original blast. Firefighters say it could take days for the fire to burn itself out.

Duke Energy workers have shut off the gas supply to the underground storage cavern, which holds six billion cubic feet.