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Gas explosion rocks eastern Audrain County

Posted on Wednesday, March 6, 2019 at 8:56 am

Flames burst high into the air after a gas pipeline explosing in Mexico. The full video of this fire is located on The Vandalia Leader’s Facebook page, courtesy of the Audrain County Sheriff’s Office.By Ben Marshall
The Vandalia Leader
According to Nicholas Tietsort, Audrain County’s Emergency Management Agency Director, his family was awakened by pipeline explosion around 3:30 a.m. His family lives near the rupture and they were not sure what had just happened. Their thought was possibly a train wreck or tornado.
Tietsort reported that the room was glowing and that they have blackout curtains. His family quickly grabbed their girls and cell phones and headed out of there. According to the Audrain County Sheriff’s Office, the pipeline exploded along Missouri Route 15, about a mile north of Mexico. “Firefighters were already responding even before the page had gone out.” Tietsort said.
Steve Gentry, chief of the Little Dixie Fire Protection District, said that he looked out his windows of his two story house and it looked like the square was on fire. On scene, the heat was so intense that it wasn’t safe to get within one half mile of the fire. Chief Gentry stated that they had all three stations, equipment, and personnel on scene at the staging area set at the Mexico High School parking lot. Emergency responders helped keep people at a safe distance. Chief Gentry said there really wasn’t much they could do until the heat and situation became manageable. Once it was possible, emergency responders went in and extinguished the fire, checked houses, and helped evacuate people. Chief Gentry stated that the team is so well trained that once the adrenaline kicks in response is automatic thanks to the training of previous Chief Kenneth Hoover who retired March 1.
Mexico resident Matt Penn was the most affected by the explosion.
His family’s dream home was being built at the site of the explosion.
Thankfully, the home was not yet finished and nobody was staying at the unfinished location.
Penn states in his first hand account, “Like all Mexico, Mo. residents, we were awoken early Sunday morning to a horrifying event. As things began to settle down, we realized that the home we were constructing along Highway 15 had been completely destroyed by the explosion, fire, and heat from a nearby pipeline. We do not know any details regarding a cause or the investigation. We do know this with near certainty, had we been living in our new home, we would no longer be alive. That realization shook us to the core. But we are alive and well! We have our faith, our family, and the love of friends, more than we ever imagined, who reached out to us with concern and relief. We feel very grateful that our kids, and Bill Schafer and his construction crew were not on the property when this occurred. And, we are very grateful that our new neighbors are also okay. Law enforcement and emergency responders were very kind and professional as we learned what had happened.”
Missouri Department of Transportation reports that Missouri Route 15 about one mile north of Mexico, just south of Davis Creek Bridge, will remain temporarily closed for the next few days following the gas line explosion that occurred Sunday. Once the road is established to be in good condition, Missouri Department of Transportation cress will reopen the road once the Gas company has completed their review and the road is determined to be in good condition. MoDOT will also reinspect the bridge, since it was near the explosion. Drivers are asked to use alternate routes and refer to MoDOT’s Traveler Map at for updates.
Emergency Management Director Nicholas Tietsort said that many thanks go out to the Sheriffs Department, Fire Department, and all the volunteers who did a great job.