Burning Pipeline in Louisiana – April 2012

Back in April we blogged about a natural-gas pipeline explosion and fire in the marshes of Louisiana, hot enough to see on low-resolution MODIS satellite imagery.  We got the heads up about this explosion from the SkyTruth Alerts system. The descriptions were pretty dramatic:  a fireball seen from miles away; flames shooting hundreds of feet in the air.

Well, we just got some spectacular photos of this incident, shot from the air the day it happened.  Our thanks to on-the-spot skytruther Adam Tjelmeland for sharing these pics with us, and for his first-person account of what he saw:

This fire started on 4/9/2012 about 23 NM SW of Houma, LA. I was up flying a routine maintenance flight when some helicopters started reporting thick smoke about 23 SW of Houma. I flew down by the fire. We could see it when we were about 15 NM from the fire at 1,000 feet AGL.

The smoke was caused by the grass that was on fire next to the explosion. When the grass burned off, the smoke went away but the hot fire continued. The smoke and heat went up to approximately 1,000 feet AGL. When the smoke went away, we could see visible soot up to 800 feet. We circled the fire for awhile.

You can notice the water boiling, maybe from the pressure, or heat, I’m not sure. It was a sight to see.

…I noticed the fire because of a helicopter reporting it on the tower frequency. I was flying a routine maintenance flight, and my first concern was if anyone was injured. I was looking for a boat or people who may have been at the buildings next to the fire. I didn’t see anyone around.

Here are two of Adam’s pics:

Aerial photo of burning pipeline in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana on April 9, 2012. Photo courtesy of Adam Tjelmeland.

 

Aerial photo of burning pipeline in Terrebonne Parish, Louisiana on April 9, 2012. Photo courtesy of Adam Tjelmeland.