Gas-line blast closes major highway in Fresno, injures 14

FRESNO, Calif. (KTVU) -- Firefighters in Fresno responded to a gas line explosion and fire Friday afternoon that injured 14 people and temporarily closed Highway 99, according to authorities.

The fire was reported around 2:30 p.m. The Fresno City Fire Department reported the fire was at 7448 North Weber Avenue. Highway 99 was shut down in both directions.

Photos and video from the scene showed flames rising high above the location of the fire. Eleven people were taken to local hospitals, and four are in critical condition.

The pipeline rupture happened at a gun range used by Fresno County law enforcement.

A Sheriff's department spokesman says a county worker was using a backhoe to build a bullet stopping dirt berm on the range when the explosion happened.

The backhoe operator suffered severe burns along with at least one member of an inmate work crew at the gun range.

A PG&E spokesman says it was a 12-inch pipeline that was ruptured and no call was made to the utility to check for buried pipelines on the property.

PG&E crews remained at the site late Friday to restore service in the area.

Highway 99 was closed until about 4:15 p.m. when the gas line was contained.