No Injuries After Hancock County Gas Explosion

A fiery explosion rocked a Hancock County community Tuesday night. The explosion happened at the Tennessee Gas Compressor Station on Lower Bay Road shortly before five. Fortunately, there were no injuries reported.

Authorities said lightning may have hit a tank holding nearly four-thousand gallons of waste oil from the compressor station. The explosion blew the tank into pieces.

Officials said the explosion caused a second tank to catch fire. The burning tank was full of a by product from natural gas.

Nearby home owners in the Ansley Community were startled when they heard the explosion.

Greg Thomas said, "I [saw] a ball of fire come out of the air, and went inside and told my grab the kids and let's leave."

It took firefighters from four departments about an hour to put the fires out.

Tennessee Gas officials said the explosion won't create any environmental threats.

Earl Etheridge with the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality said, "The company's bringing in their environmental engineer out of Birmingham and we're going to get with him and see what kind of clean-up we need to be doing."

Etheridge said most of the efforts will be to clean the used motor oil at the plant itself.

The plant, which transfers natural gas to Northern states, is automated. Thomas said he thinks someone needs to be at the plant at all times.

Thomas said, "If it's not manned at all times, it needs to be moved out of a residential area. I don't think the citizens around here deserve this kind of treatment."

This isn't the first time Ansley community members felt a jolt from Tennessee Gas. There have been two other explosions in recent years. There was one in 1997 and another in 1998. One person was injured in the 1998 explosion.