‘It sounded like a jet engine’: 800 Sanford residents evacuated after ruptured gas line causes massive blaze

SANFORD, Fla. — More than 800 people were asked to evacuate from their homes early Thursday morning due to a ruptured gas line in Sanford, the Seminole County Fire Department said.

The gas line ruptured at about midnight in the area of Michigan and Nebraska avenues near the Black Bear Wilderness area, which caused a massive fire in the area.

Witnesses told Channel 9, “it sounded like a jet engine.”

Photos: Gas line rupture causes massive fire; flames seen shooting into sky in Sanford

“It was pretty crazy,” neighbor Blaize McMonigle said. “I woke up at about 1 a.m. and I heard this loud roaring sound. I actually thought that it was a rocket taking off and I was wondering if there was a launch.”

Nearby residents said flames were shooting at least 100 feet into the air.

“This could have been much worse, and certainly anyone who was watching the incident, it did look really bad from a distance,” said Chief Otto Drozd. “There were really no exposures in the immediate area. While it looked bad, it was a very controlled operation from our end."

No one was hurt in the fire, according to the fire department. The fire happened in a remote area and didn’t cause any property damage.

All of the people asked to evacuate have returned to their homes.

Firefighters said the gas line was shut down and 21 units were on scene to assist.

The Florida Public Utilities company said it lost its natural gas feed from the interstate pipeline that services the Sanford, Longwood, Lake Mary and Winter Springs areas.

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The company said it has begun to curtail natural gas service to maximize the remaining gas in the system.

It said it expects extended delays in restoring natural gas service possibly into the weekend.

On its website, the company said, “Please know that we will do everything within our power to achieve the best possible outcome for our customers and communities we serve.”

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This is a developing story. Watch Channel 9 Eyewitness News for live updates.

See a map of the area below:

Q Mccray

Q McCray, WFTV.com

Q McCray is an award-winning general assignment reporter.

Katlyn Brieskorn, WFTV.com

Katlyn Brieskorn is a Digital Assignment Editor at WFTV. She joined Channel 9 in July 2019.