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Milford Pipeline Repairs Continue, Evacuations Still In Force

By Jennifer Lindgren

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MILFORD (CBS 11 NEWS) – The fires at the site of a pipeline explosion in Milford lit up the sky all day Thursday, but tonight are burning lower.

Residents remain evacuated, as Chevron crews work to secure the site of the 10-inch pipe that released the gas and caught fire. Other work includes repairing a nearby 14-inch pipe that also contains liquid petroleum gas.

Chevron officials say they’re removing product from the larger pipe and will depressurize it. Their crews are stationed on the line about two miles east and west of the explosion site, for safety reasons.

“Our absolute number one goal is to make sure nobody gets hurt. We are extremely thankful at this point that nobody has been hurt in the process,” said Jim Barnum, General Manager of Operations for Chevron. “We have some work to do, but the number one goal of all involved is protection of life.”

Later in the evening, Chevron will ignite flares to help with the burn-off, which may be visible to residents, but will not pose a risk.

The town of Milford, with a population of 800, had to evacuate Thursday in a time span of about 45 minutes. While most people are staying with family or friends, the American Red Cross is helping several families with shelter.

“We’ve got a 14-inch gas line that is still dangerous. We request that our citizens be patient. We’re doing everything we can, and Chevron is doing everything they can,” said Milford Fire Chief Mark Jackson.

Air quality tests Friday morning yielded normal results, and residents were allowed to return on school buses to briefly gather belongings and take care of pets.  They’ve not yet been given an estimate on how long it will be before they can return home for good.

Milford Mayor Bruce Perryman has been near the scene since the explosion. “I stayed in my car last night,” he said. “Today [I] just tried to pitch in any way that I can. I helped unload the Red Cross trucks, and worked with the officers on getting people registered.”

The first priority is securing the gas lines, Chevron’s GM said.  They have not yet begun the process of investigating the cause of the gas release and fire.

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