Texas Pipeline Blast Kills Police Officer

An Abilene, TX natural gas liquids pipeline owned by ExxonMobil Corp. remained shut down Friday night after an explosion killed a police detective who was first on the scene of the accident, sent a woman to the hospital and forced the evacuation of nearby residents.

Texas Department of Public Safety officials said that the 12-inch propane pipeline, which carries 1,200 bbl/d of propane, butane and ethane between Baden and Beaumont, TX, ruptured and then caught fire after a bulldozer hit it Thursday afternoon.

Abilene Police Detective Jay Hatcher, 42, a criminal investigator for the Abilene Police Department, died Friday at University Medical Center in Lubbock, TX. Also, a woman living near the point of the blast was injured in her home and taken to the hospital with minor injuries. Eight families also were relocated until the threat of another fire or explosion was over. The driver of the bulldozer escaped uninjured.

Exxon said Friday that the pipeline was still burning, but that the fire had been contained and would burn itself out. The company had no estimate of when the pipeline would restart, but said it would remain closed pending the results of the investigation.

Carolyn Davis, Houston

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