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911 calls and exclusive drone images reveal minutes after pipeline explosion

The FOCUS investigative team reveals what it was like for responders and residents near the explosion site.

LINCOLN COUNTY, Ky. — Newly obtained 911 calls and new drone video captured by first responders reveal more details about the deadly pipeline explosion in Lincoln County on August 1. One woman died, many were hurt, and homes were destroyed.

Dispatchers and first responders describe a need for more resources, like firefighters and water. Calls from residents all over the area poured into the Bluegrass 911 dispatch center, filling up all lines, according to dispatchers. Hundreds of people called in for help and information, many wondering whether the explosion was caused by a plane crash. Others called asking about whether it was safe for them to go outside. Other people describe the ground shaking.

Meanwhile, first responders say their main mission was to search for survivors. Scott Maples, chief of the local Stanford Fire Department, says he got as close as he could to the scene to obtain drone video that could help emergency responders investigate the area as safely as possible. His footage was used largely to find roads and access points into homes to rescue people. His thermal imaging video from a drone shows three homes on fire after the gas was shut off.

“Emergency services you know that’s what we do, we’re there to help people in the worst moments of their lives,” says Maples. “That’s our call, to do that. Putting yourself at risk in order to help other people.”

Authorities say in total, it took over 200 people to get the inferno under control. Firefighters say when they first got to the scene, all they could do was evacuate people and direct traffic because of the flame’s intensity, fueled by gas was still flowing through pipes about 30 minutes after the explosion.

Enbridge, the company that owns the pipeline that exploded earlier this month in Lincoln County, says nearby pipelines could return to service by Monday. There is no set date of when Line 15, the pipeline that ruptured on August 1, will return to service.

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