Evacuees return home

UPDATE 5:37 a.m.

Most residents of a northern B.C. community are being allowed back into their homes after a gas pipeline ruptured, sparking a massive blaze.

RCMP say the explosion happened at about 5:30 p.m. PT Tuesday and forced about 100 members of the nearby Lheidli T'enneh First Nation from their homes.

Officials say it was from an Enbridge natural gas pipeline in Shelley, B.C., about 15 kilometres northeast of Prince George.

Police say residences within several kilometres were evacuated as a precaution, but the evacuation zone has now been reduced to residences within a one kilometre radius of the explosion site.

They say there are no injuries and no reported damage other than to the pipeline itself.

The gas supply has been shut down and police say there is no indication of a cause at this point in time.

National Energy Board spokesman Tom Neufeld said the fire was along Enbridge's Westcoast main line, which falls under the board's jurisdiction.

The Westcoast Transmission System transports natural gas produced in the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin to consumers in B.C. and, through interconnecting pipelines, other Canadian provinces and the United States.

"NEB inspectors have been deployed to this area. They're going to monitor and oversee the company's response to the incident, and they're going to determine the impact and extent of the fire and release," Neufeld said.

The agency will work closely with the Transportation Safety Board, which is responsible for investigating the incident, he said.

UPDATE: 10:10 p.m.

Prince George RCMP say homes within several kilometres of Tuesday night's pipeline explosion were evacuated. Later in the night, the evacuation zone was reduced to one kilometre and residents were able to return home, CTV reports.

The gas line has been successfully shut down.

Enbridge says company crews are working to assess the situation.

UPDATE: 10 p.m.

About 100 members of a First Nation community were evacuated from their homes Tuesday evening after a gas pipeline ruptured near prince George, sparking a massive blaze.

The evacuees largely belonged to the nearby Lheidli T'enneh First Nation and were asked to leave their homes as a precaution.

Prince George resident Dhruv Desai said he was driving up a hill toward the nearby University of Northern British Columbia when he noticed several drivers had pulled off the road, taking photos of something.

"I was able to see it very clearly from the hill," he said. "It was huge even from this distance."

– The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 9:02 p.m.

The rupture occurred on a natural gas transmission pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge about 13.5 kilometres from Prince George on Tuesday evening, Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes said in an emailed statement.

It ignited at the site, which is in a rural area. There are no reports of injuries, he said.

"Enbridge emergency crews have responded, have isolated and are currently depressurizing two natural gas transmission lines in the vicinity to contain the incident," he said. "The incident area has been cordoned off to maintain public safety."

About 100 people have been evacuated from the nearby Lheidli T'enneh First Nation as a precaution.

"Enbridge is working with area communities to ensure public safety," he said.

– The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 8:43 p.m.

"It sounded like a jet engine. We thought it might have been a train crash because there are two train tracks on each side of the river, but then we looked out back and it was this massive ball of fire," Regional Chief Terry Teegee of the nearby Takla Lake First Nation told CTV News.

"We were a bit worried when it first happened. We were all outside and wondering what to do."

UPDATE: 7:58 p.m.

Enbridge spokesman Michael Barnes says the company is working to assess the situation at a pipeline explosion near Prince George and will have more information shortly.

RCMP say homes in the immediate area, which is largely rural, have been evacuated.

They say the cause is still under investigation.

– The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 7:40 p.m.

A pipeline has ruptured and sparked a massive fire north of Prince George.

The provincial Ministry of Environment says it has been notified of the incident and that the 900 PSI gas line is operated by Enbridge.

It says the incident is ongoing in the community of Shelley, northeast of Prince George.

– The Canadian Press

UPDATE: 7:25 p.m.

A pipeline explosion near Prince George happened near the rural community of Shelley, northeast of the city and near the Leidlhi Tenneh Indian Reserve.

An emergency operations centre has reportedly been activated.

There is still no word on what caused the explosion or if any injuries are involved.

UPDATE: 7:10 p.m.

RCMP confirm evacuations are underway following a pipeline explosion near Prince George, CTV reports.

ORIGINAL: 6:45 p.m.

There are reports of a massive fire in Prince George.

Few details are available, but posts on Twitter say the flames and smoke are billowing thousands of feet into the air.

Unconfirmed reports state there was a possible pipeline explosion.

Castanet will have more information as soon as it become available.

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