Two people died and two others were severely injured when farm equipment struck a natural gas pipeline near Dixon, IL on December 5. The explosion, which occurred around 9 a.m on a farm near the intersection of Franklin Grove Road and Route 38, set off a massive fire that burned for more than four hours.
Two of the workers, 59-year-old Rory Miller of Amboy and his son Ryan Miller, 30, of Oregon, were deceased when first responders arrived at the scene. The two injured men taken to KSB Hospital and then transferred to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center, a Level 1 trauma center, in Rockford. Michael Koster, 20, of Sterling was listed in critical but stable condition. The name of the other man, who was treated and released, was not disclosed.
“We feel for these families. They are our utmost concern right now,” Lee County Sheriff John Simonton said in a press conference today. “We are going to do our best to try to provide comfort to them.”
The workers had been laying field tile to improve drainage when a tractor got stuck. They were using a second tractor to pull it free when the blast occurred.
Nathan Hummel, who lives about a mile from the location, told WQAD that he could see the fire from his home. He described flames shooting 150 feet in the air and billowing thick black smoke. He said he headed to the scene to find out what had happened and could feel the heat from the fire when he was about a quarter-mile away.
Kinder Morgan Gas Pipeline
The pipeline is one of two running through that area, both of which are owned by Kinder Morgan. The type of line that was struck, a 20-inch cross-country transmission pipe, is normally buried at a depth of 4 or 5 feet, a company spokesman said. Operating more than 84,000 miles of pipelines, the company is one of the largest energy infrastructure companies in North America, according to its website.
After the company cut the fuel supply to the pipeline, firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control at around 1:15 p.m. A crew from Kinder Morgan is working with local, state and federal agencies on the investigation of the explosion on the farm located near Nachusa, which is a little east of Dixon and about 90 miles west of Chicago.