Part of interstate reopens after W.Va. gas inferno

9:30 AM, Dec 12, 2012   |    comments
Fireball erupting across Interstate 77 from a natural gas line explosion, Sissonville, West Virginia, West Virginia State Police photo/AP
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By John Raby and Vicki Smith, Associated Press

SISSONVILLE, W.Va. (AP) -- Part of Interstate 77 in West Virginia has reopened after crews worked through the night to repair damage from a massive natural gas line explosion and fire.

Tuesday's inferno destroyed four homes and damaged others. It melted guardrails and left a huge swath of the interstate in Sissonville impassible. Nobody was killed, but several people were treated for smoke inhalation.

Northbound lanes of I-77 reopened early Wednesday. Southbound lanes remained closed.

A roughly 800-foot section in both directions was baked by the heat.

Transportation Secretary Paul Mattox said crews were removing asphalt and grinding the roadway down to the original concrete before repaving. The state hopes to have the highway reopened in both directions by Wednesday night.

Federal and state officials are investigating what caused the explosion.

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