Columbia Gas Transmission, a unit of NiSource Inc., said a 30-inch diameter looping line carrying about 60 MMcf/d of gas in West Virginia ruptured Monday at 11 p.m., causing a fire but no injuries.

The pipeline, which ruptured in a rural area near Charleston, serves local distribution companies and other customers in the region. An alternate line is being used to continue service to most of those customers.

A spokeswoman said service was cut to some Allegheny Energy customers because of the incident, but service should be restored by the end of the week.

By about 1 a.m. Tuesday, Columbia crews had closed valves on either side of the damaged portion of Line SM-80 and the fire burned itself out. The rupture occurred at a point where the pipeline crosses Poca River Road at the border of Kanawha and Putnam Counties. Numerous local emergency response teams responded to the situation, helping ensure public safety and controlling access to the site. Public safety officials evacuated a number of residents from the area, but later all were allowed to return home.

Columbia investigators, regulatory agency representatives and representatives of the U.S. Department of Transportation Office of Pipeline Safety are at the site of the rupture. The investigation into the cause of the incident could take as long as a month, as portions of the pipe will be sent to an outside laboratory for analysis.

Equipment has been brought to the site to help aid in clean up work necessary for the investigation to continue. Once investigators have completed their work at the site, Columbia will begin taking steps necessary to repair the line and restore service to about 20 Allegheny Energy residential customers in the area that have lost service as a result of the rupture.

Columbia Gas Transmission operates a 12,500-mile interstate natural gas pipeline network, transporting natural gas from supply areas in Appalachia and the Gulf Coast to markets across the eastern United States.

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