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Tiny Wyoming Town Evacuated After Explosion at Natural Gas Plant

A small town in southwestern Wyoming was evacuated on Wednesday afternoon after an explosion and fire at a natural gas processing plant.

Lincoln County spokesman Stephen Malik told NBC Station KSL that there were no injuries from the blast, which occurred about 2 p.m.

“Everyone is being ordered to evacuate east of town,” Malik said. “We’re working on long-term sheltering plans.”

Image: A fire burns after an explosion at a natural gas pipeline hub in Opal, Wyo., on Wednesday, April 23, 2014.
A fire burns after an explosion at a natural gas pipeline hub in Opal, Wyo., on Wednesday, April 23, 2014. No injuries were reported, but Opal residents have been evacuated as a precaution, according to Lincoln County spokesman Stephen Malik. Courtesy Rachel Anderson

An area of about 3 miles outside the town was evacuated as a precaution, he said.

Opal, Wyoming, a town of some 100 residents 100 miles northeast of Salt Lake City, was completely emptied and nearby U.S. Highway 30 and State route 240 were closed because of the fire at the plant.

No structures in the town were damaged, however, officials said.

Plant officials said that all workers at the plant were accounted for. The plant is operated by the Oklahoma-based Williams Partners L.P.

The cause of the blast was still under investigation, and it was unclear how long the evacuation orders would remain in effect.

—Jeff Black