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Greg Thomas: Hopes Knifley has a more normal night tonight

Adair County Emergency Disaster Manager Thomas, Adair County Judge Executive Ann Melton, and Knifley Area Volunteer Fire Department Public Affairs Spokesman Jeramy Stearns briefed area media and tv stations at 11amCT today at the Knifley Fire Department.
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By Ed Waggener

Adair County CEO Ann Melton; Greg Thomas, Emergency Disaster Manager for Adair; and Knifley Area Volunteer Fire Department Public Information Officer Jeramy Stearnes briefed a dozen or so media representatives at 11amCT, today on the progress made in the 10 hours since the 911 center in Columbia was notified of the Knifley Pipeline explosion. Thomas said that, at the time, all the fires had been extinguished, everyone in the area had been accounted for, that the two people taken to the hospital had both been released this morning, that road repairs on KY 76 were on track for a possible completion by 5pmCT, and that authorities hoped to allow all residents to return to their homes tonight. "We're hoping everything will be back to as normal as possible tonight for for everyone."

Thomas said that he was overwhelmed by the offers of support and by the performance of all involved.

Thomas, who is the top officer at the Adair 911 Center, said a call reporting the explosion to the center in Columbia came at 1:04/05amCT this morning.

He said the there were three houses damaged by the fire, two of which were completely destroyed. Also damaged were 6 vehicles and 3 barns.

During the course of the night and early morning, he reported (in a list given to media representatives who requested them) that, starting with the home town Knifley Fire Department, other first responders on the scene were the Adair County Fire Department, the Breeding Fire Department, the Clementsville Fire Department, the Dunnville Fire Department, Casey County Fire Department, the Adair County EMS, the Adair County Sheriffs Office, Adair County Constables including the local district's Constable Jason Rector, the Kentucky State Police, the State Fire Marshal, the Red Cross, the Adair County Judge's Office, Adair County Emergency Management Office and the Kentuckyi Emergency Management office, Road Crews, and the electrical utilities representatives.

In addition, the Russell County, Burkesville, and Green County Fire Departments were on standby to come if needed.

"In all," he said, "we probably had well over 100 people working."

It was amazing how many people responded throughout the state.

Some responded anticipating the possibility of needs which did not materialize but whose presence was reassuring. The Red Cross dispatched a representative to set up a shelter, but no one needed the shelter, Thomas said. (And at least one local church had sent the offer of a shelter, Plum Point Baptist, just a couple of hours after the news of the disaster was widespread).

Thomas was asked about many matters related to the pipeline, but deferred those questions to Columbia Gas Transmission representatives. "They have 15 people here to address the situation."

He did say that Columbia Gas had bled lines to reduce the the danger from further explosions. He said the a pressure had been reduced in one parallel line from around 1800 PSI to 600 PSI to reduce the possibility of danger.

Thomas said that three pipelines cross the county, but only two were close enough to represent any possible related consequences.

Thomas said that the because of the low density of houses in the area, the losses were much less than they could have been.

He also said that the timing, at 1amCT, this morning, was likely responsible for no motorists being hurt. The explosion threw huge boulders into the roadways. "I'm not talking about just big rocks, these were huge. One of those boulders could have totalled a car and killed motorists and passengers," he said.

Judge Melton tells why the State of Emergency was declared

Judge Melton was asked in the news conference about her decision to declare a state of emergency and the area it involved. "To a great extent, I followed the advice of Greg Thomas on the State of Emergency - and it was for the whole county." The reason for the declaration was that it made additional resources available, she said. And the county could act expeditiously to protect human life, property, and the countryside more effectively." Judge Melton said that calls to offer assistance or to check on needs had come from Rep. Ed Whitfield, from State Representative Bam Carney, and from the governor's office, asking if all the lines had been purged.

Judge Melton, who was on the scene most of the morning before making a brief return to Columbia for a little over an hour, said that she could not be prouder of the local first responders or of those who came to Adair County's aid and did so in such an organized, controlled and professional manner.

Jeremy Stearnes: gave description of the explosion

KAVFD spokesperson Jeremy Stearnes a Millerfield, Adair County area resident and a member of the fire department, in answer to a Tv reporters question, described the fire, which extended hundreds of feet in the air, as looking like a liftoff of a NASA space craft. He said that one of the sounds was like being right up by a loud freight train.

Stearnes told the reporters that the departments first concern, with the explosion as with all calls, was the safety of people. "We wanted to make sure that all people were safe and accounted for."

After that, he said that the firefighters and first responders priority to protect residents, other structures, and the environment.

He said that the fireman had all fires under control at around 8:30amCT this morning - only 7.5 hours after response operations began.

During the conference, and for several hours beyond, dump trucks were continously transforming the KY 76 roadway from a warzone to full utility. - EW

This story was posted on 2014-02-13 14:06:20
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Greg Thomas fields a question at 11amCT briefing

2014-02-13 - Knifley Fire Department, 6130 Elkhorn Road, Knifley, KY 42753 - Photo by Ed Waggener. Greg Thomas, Adair County Adair County Emergency Disaster Director, right field a question from a Tv reporter at the 11amCT news briefing on the Knifley Pipeline Explosion. Also taking part in the news conference were Jeramy Stearnes of the Knifley Area Volunteer Fire Department, left and Adair County Judge Executive Ann Melton.
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Highway Department may have KY 76 open this evening

2014-02-13 - Knifley, KY - Photo Special to CM. The Kentucky Highway Department was making speedy work of repairing the damage from the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline explosion. Before noon, Adair County Emergeny Disaster Director Greg Thomas said that there is a possibliity the road could be re-opened as early as 5pmCT - just 16 hours after his Adair County 911 Center in Columbia received notification of the explosion. This view, from Bradley & Kathy Tucker's yard, looks over the damage to the still blacktopped KY 76 on the west side of ground zero. The road bed already has a far different appearance from early morning, when a visiting County Judge Executive asked if what kind of road it was. "Is it a logging road?" before she was told that it is a heavily travelled state maintained, blacktop driveway. The Tucker's home, not seen in picture, was one of three houses damaged in the explosion. Not, seen, but on the right hand side, was the home of Jim Hardin, which was totally destroyed. The third house, completely destroyed in the fire, was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Mike Berry, Kathy Tucker said.
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Berry Home, one of two totally destroyed in Knifley Explosion

2014-02-13 - Elkhorn Road, Knifley, KY - Photo Special to CM. The Mike Berry Home, above, was one of two homes destroyed by the pipeline explosion this morning, as was the home diagonally across the road owned by Jim Hardin. A third home, directly across KY 76/Elkhorn Road, owned by Kathy and Bradley Tucker, was heavily damaged by a spray of falling rocks. Mrs. Tucker said the roof was protecting them for a period of time. "We couldn't leave because of the danger of falling rocks," she said at the Knifley Fire House. "But later our son, Justin Tucker, came and got us. I couldn't say how long - but it seemed like an eternity. I didn't know if we'd make it or not." Mrs. Tucker is an aunt of 51st District Rep. John BAM Carney. - Ed Waggener
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Knifley Pipeline Explosion: The flame in the crater

2014-02-13 - Knifley, KY - Photo by Greg Thomas. Greg Thomas, Adair County Emergency Management Director, who is also a professional photographer, has released this photo he took of the flame in the crater made by the explosion of a 30" Columbia Gas Transmission line at around 1amCT this morning. The photo was taken just after daybreak. The initial burst of flames were estimated to have been as high as 300-400 feet in the air and were reported to have been seen by persons in adjoining counties.
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Knifley Pipeline Explosion: Enormous fire seen through woods

2014-02-13 - Knifley, KY - Photo By Greg Thomas. Greg Thomas captured this scene in the early morning hours following the Columbia Gas Transmission pipeline explosion near Knifley, KY.
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Knifley Pipeline Explosion: Knifley Firemen on the job

2014-02-13 - Knifley, KY - Photo by Greg Thomas, Adair Emergency Management. The Knifley Fire Department were first on the scene - the disaster occurred less than one half mile from the station - and Knifley Fire Chief C.R. Drake was in charge of the control of the ground zero area from the get go. While superlatives are being handed out to all the departments, extraordinary praise has been given to the men and the leadership of the Knifley Area Volunteer Fire Department. The scene above was taken the in the early morning hours, at the start of what would be a very, very long day.
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Knifley Pipeline Explosion: State Fire Marshal on Scene

2014-02-13 - KY 76, W. of Knifley, KY - Photo by Greg Thomas, Adair Emergency Management.
Todd Price, with the State Fire Marshal Office
, and volunteer firefighters survey the crater of the side of the roadway. They're standing in the middle of the roadway and are surrounded by chunks of rocks that were blown out when the explosion took place. Greg Thomas

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Knifley Pipeline Explosion: Man gives perspective to the crater

2014-02-13 - Knifley, KY - Photo by Greg Thomas, Thomas Photography. A lone first responder at the rim of the crater lends perspective to the size of the crater produced by the pipeline explosion at around 1am this Thursday, February 13, 2014 morning. the severed end of the 30" pipe can be seen just to the right and below him. The photo also gives a good idea of the size of the boulder blown from the ground underneath, to imagine the enormous potential for a fatalities had the explosion occurred in a commuting hour when KY 76 would have be busy with workers going to Campbellsville.
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Knifley Pipeline Explosion: Firefighters, Road & Utility Workers

2014-02-13 - Knifley, KY - Photo by Greg Thomas, Adair Emergency Management.
This is a group of Knifley Fire Fighters, State Highway Department, and Utility workers
who were waiting as work was being done so they can continue with the recovery process. - Greg Thomas. (L-R identification would be appreciated; under stress of time during the disaster complete ID's were feasible)

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