BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The operator of the heavy machinery that hit a gas line near Houghton and Wible Roads Friday has died, the Kern County Fire Department said.
Three others, residing in a home nearby, were injured in a large explosion that was seen and heard Friday around 3:30 p.m.
It was reported a high-pressure natural gas explosion south of Bakersfield sent one and possibly two massive fireballs into the air. The gas was shut down around 5 p.m. but vegetation and an outbuilding were still on fire at that time.
Hall Ambulance said the injured suffered second and third-degree burns – damaging 20 to 30 percent of their bodies.
Flames shot up to 200 feet in the air and many KGET viewers described the fire as large.
"My husband was driving home from work. He actually had to turn around because he could feel the heat from the fire," Bakersfield resident Kristin Morgan said.
Viewers reported their power went out in the surrounding neighborhood and their house shook at the time of the incident.
At around 4:45 p.m. the California Highway Patrol said Highways 119 and 223 would be shut down in both directions from Highway 99. In addition, H Street at Houghton Road were closed as well as H Street at Shafter Road.
Bakersfield resident Ana Garcia said her parents, who live in the area, received a call around 5 p.m. telling them to evacuate their home.
Only two to three residences were evacuated and the Kern County Fire Department advised the residents to stay away from the area until it is deemed safe.
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