'Just a big ball of fire,' evacuee describes Prud'Homme explosion

Four families remain under an evacuation order following a large explosion and fire at a TransGas plant in Prud'Homme, Sask.

A large fire continues to burn at the TransGas pumping station near Prud'Homme

RAW: Fireball at Prud'homme gas well

7 years ago
Duration 0:28
RAW: Flames shot out of the gas storage facility at Prud'homme, Sask., on Monday. 0:28

Grace Hryniuk and her husband Julius have lived on their farm near Prud'Homme, Sask., for the past 50 years.

They were outside in their yard on Saturday morning when something unprecedented happened.

"It's like a fighter jet flying over your house, 500 feet above," Grace Hryniuk explained. "It's a continuous roar, just a big ball of fire."

For as long as the Hryniuks have lived on their farm, the TransGas pumping station has been nearby too. Hryniuk said they had a good idea what had happened once they saw the fireball.

"Well, we figured it probably caught on fire because there was always the possibility of that happening," Hyrniuk said.

Hryniuk and her family stayed in their home for a few hours after the initial explosion at the TransGas site and before they were told they had to evacuate. They are now staying with their daughter who lives nearby, out of the evacuated area.

It's like a fighter jet flying over your house, 500 feet above ... It's a continuous roar, just a big ball of fire.- Grace Hryniuk

Despite the evacuation, CBC News reached Hryniuk at her farm on Monday morning. She explained her family had received permission from emergency personnel to stop by their residence to do some chores as they are nearing the end of their harvest.

"It doesn't really have that much impact on us right now because we would have been out in the field anyway," she said. "But come tomorrow or the day after we'll be done, and we're hoping by then things will be settled then."

SaskEnergy says there was an accidental release of natural gas on the site, which ignited. An oilfield firefighting company called Safety Boss is helping battle the flames. The fire is still burning.

Crews still unable to reach gas valves

SaskEnergy spokesperson Dave Burdeniuk told CBC News that firefighting crews tried to get closer to the burning building to help shut off the gas on Monday morning, but were unsuccessful. 

According to Burdeniuk they now believe there are two valves that need to be shut off. SaskEnergy is working with the safety company on a revised plan to access them. Burdeniuk says they may try again later Monday afternoon, however it is a lengthy process to provide access to the wellhead.

Crews first need to fill up water cannons and trucks and spray down the area. While the water will not put out the gas fire, it's an attempt to lower the temperature. Burdeniuk said the fire is burning at about 815-1100 degrees Celsius (1,500 to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and the flames are burning about 18 to 20 metres high. 

He added that the 13 people evacuated from their nearby homes will likely be out for another day. 

A few things packed, in case we need to go

Katherine Regnier lives on an acreage near Prud'Homme with her husband, toddler and baby. She was riding in a combine with her brother, who farms in the area, on Saturday morning.

"It wasn't until I was driving home that I actually saw the sheer size of the fire," Regnier said. "Just scorching flames that looked like they were shooting a hundred feet into the air."

It lights up the evening sky like a candle light,- Katherine Regnier

Although their home falls outside of the evacuated area, Regnier said the sound and the site of the blaze is prominent in their minds.

"At night it lights up the evening sky like a candle light," Regnier said "I can see the fire right now and I am speaking to you, and at night its actually reflecting off our windows from 5 kilometres away, so that tells you how large the fire is."

Regnier said her family has a few things packed just in case they are forced to leave.

"We just have a few things packed in case we need to go."