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16

Texas Gas Storage Facility Explodes

An explosion early Thursday at an underground gas storage facility

An explosion early Thursday at an underground gas storage facility forced dozens of residents from their homes, authorities said.

No one was reported injured, but roads were closed and houses within a one-mile radius were ordered evacuated after natural gas exploded at the Duke Energy site at about 4 a.m.

Witnesses said in broadcast reports that they saw a ball of fire from a bridge over the Trinity River.

One person inside the storage site at the time of the blast was able to escape, said Capt. Bill Tidwell of the Liberty County Sheriff's Department.

``Everybody's been accounted for,'' he said.

Crews decided to let the gas burn itself out, and two other storage chambers at the facility are not thought to be threatened, he said. Emergency crews remained on the scene well past daybreak.

The cause of the explosion was not immediately determined, and officials with Duke Energy did not return a call seeking comment Thursday morning.

Moss Bluff is about 40 miles northeast of Houston. The area is dotted with manmade caverns inside salt domes, which are the world's largest storage site for explosive hydrocarbons. One underground gas leak in 1980 forced 72 families from their homes in nearby Mont Belvieu for almost five months