The Mountaineer - Rocky Mountain House, Alberta, Canada
© 2007 The Mountaineer Publishing Company Limited.


Lightning strike ignites pipeline
By Gail Krabben
Staff Writer

A pipeline in the Ricinus area burst into flames after being struck by lightning on Saturday, July 6.
“At 6 p.m. I got a call from Clearwater Regional Fire Rescue Services (CRFRS) about a fire in a field about 300 metres east of Hwy. 22, about two miles north of Clearwater Trading Post,” said Travis Stuber, serviceman and construction lead with Rocky Gas Co-op. “CRFR was on scene when I arrived at 6:35 p.m. I had to return to Rocky Mountain House to get equipment and another employee to help.”
Stuber continued, “At 7:40 p.m. I arrived with equipment and a plan of action was made with CRFRS. At 8:45 p.m. our pipeline was exposed in two locations — one up stream and one down stream — and gas flow was stopped. The fire was allowed to burn out.”
Stuber said it took about 30 seconds for the fire to burn itself out. The 1.25-inch (32 millimetre) pipeline was buried 3.5 feet below the surface.
“Then we were able to dig up the damaged portion of our pipeline and repairs were completed by 10:30 p.m.” Stuber said the pipeline repair was a routine procedure, but the circumstances were extraordinary.
Stuber noted that a lightning strike on a gas pipeline is very rare, but can happen.
“This was the first time I’ve ever seen it,” he said, adding it’s also the first time anyone with Rocky Gas Co-op has experienced it.
No customers lost gas supply during the incident.
“We would like to take this time to remind our customers to call anytime they suspect or notice any smell of gas or any noticeable leaks anywhere,” said Stuber.