Ruptured Fayetteville gas line to burn for another day before being repaired

Posted December 19, 2017 10:36 a.m. EST
Updated July 12, 2018 2:13 p.m. EDT

— A Fayetteville gas main ruptured Tuesday morning in a car crash cannot be repaired until late Wednesday, authorities said.

Floyd Croxton, 68, suffered a medical condition and lost control of his van at about 9 a.m., police said, and the van ran off the road and slammed into an above-ground gas main in the 1100 block of Shaw Mill Road, sending a gas flame shooting 20 to 30 feet into the air.

"My son heard the explosion," said Verna Stiff, who lives in the nearby University Estates neighborhood. "They bomb on Fort Bragg all the time, so I'm thinking that's what it was, but I didn't realize [a gas line was cut] until the lights went out."

About 200 residents in the neighborhood lost power for a short time. Although evacuations weren't ordered, authorities told residents to stay away.

"We're in a protection mode for the utility pole and the area around the scene. We're going to make sure the van doesn't catch on fire and no more of the utility poles burn," Assistant Fire Chief Kevin Morgan said.

The ruptured line is a 12-inch gas main that feeds Fayetteville, and authorities said all of the gas has to burn out of the line before repairs can be made, which could take up to 36 hours.

"We're not going to extinguish the fire. We're going to follow Piedmont Natural Gas' recommendation and let the fire burn until they can get an emergency response crew here to help reroute the gas," Morgan said.

As long as the fire is burning, authorities said, a major explosion is unlikely.

Shaw Mill Road remains closed between Livingston Drive and Rosehill Road. Drivers were urged to use Country Club Drive as an alternate route.

Croxton and passenger Julius Mitchell, 62, were taken to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center, where they were treated and released.

One of men had to be extricated from the van by first responders, but authorities didn't identify which one.