Four Injured in Fire Caused by Gas Line Explosion in Montana

LIVINGSTON (AP) -- Four people were injured and several homes damaged Thursday in a fast-moving fire caused by a natural gas line explosion.

The fire started at about 10:30 a.m. following what many neighborhood bystanders described as a boom that rattled their windows. Contractors from Billings were replacing sewer lines in an alley behind the houses that morning, Livingston Fire and Rescue Chief Jim Mastin said.

''I'm not sure if they damaged the gas line or if there was some other reason the gas line was damaged, but NorthWestern (Energy) was out here to repair the line,'' he said. ''We don't know why it exploded.''

A triplex residence owned and occupied by former Park County Commissioner Ken Spalding caught fire, as did the home next door and a third building nearby, Mastin said.

Several windows were also blown out in a freestanding garage and trailer home across the alley behind the triplex, resident Brad Haefs said.

Three NorthWestern Energy employees were treated for burns, as was a young man who was sleeping in the triplex home. Mastin said none of their injuries appeared to be life-threatening.

Fire departments from Park and Gallatin counties responded to the blaze. Cleanup was expected to last well into Thursday afternoon, Mastin said.

Information from: Livingston Enterprise

Copyright 2005 Associated Press