Five Killed as Gas Blast Devastates Kentucky Hamlet

Associated Press

A natural gas line explosion killed five persons, gouged a 20-foot-deep crater and flattened six buildings, igniting fires that were visible 20 miles away, authorities said Sunday.

Three persons were seriously injured in the blast Saturday night that ripped up a section of Kentucky Route 90, devastated about 12 acres and forced the evacuation of 55 persons, authorities said. The dead included four members of one family.

Dick Brown, a spokesman for the state Department of Disaster and Emergency Services, said that two houses, three mobile homes and a sawmill were destroyed in Marrowbone Hill, a settlement about a mile east of Beaumont with a population of 60.

A crater 100 feet long, 30 feet wide and 20 feet deep was left by the blast, Brown said.


“It was described to me as resembling where a bomb went off,” said Bob Walters, a disaster and emergency services worker.

Five bodies were found Sunday in a destroyed wood frame house, huddled together in a 5-by-6-foot area, Metcalfe County Coroner Don Butler said.

He identified the victims as Hazel Nell Shelley, 69; her son, Bobby Mitchell Shelley, 48; his wife, Elsie Gaye Shelley, 42, and their 12-year-old son, Anthony. The other person killed was Mary Buchannan, 56, he said.

The Cumberland County Hospital in nearby Burkesville treated two adults and a child who were injured. They were in serious but stable condition Sunday, a spokesman said.