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Evacuees Return 2 Days After Propane Line Hit

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MONTICELLO, Iowa - The Jones County Sheriff says evacuees are now able to return to their homes as of 8:00 am Friday morning. Crews were able to clear out the propane from the pipe and restore power to the area.

Highway X44 is still closed for repair work, but the Sheriff's Office hopes to reopen that road around noon today.

MONTICELLO, Iowa - Weather has delayed repairs to a ruptured propane line in Jones County. Sheriff Greg Graver said the crew and equipment hired to fix the line were slowed in Minnesota by poor road conditions.

The rupture is near County Road X44 and 170th Street, south of Monticello. Authorities said a farmer hit the pipeline around three Wednesday afternoon.

Initially, people in 14 homes were evacuated, but wind direction has brought that number down to ten.

The gas company has offered to put evacuees up in hotels until they get the all clear. Friday morning, crews worked to burn off the excess liquid propane so they could begin repairs. The glow from the flames could be seen from miles away and alarmed neighbors. The Jones County Sheriff tells KCRG-TV9 the fires were contained at all times.

"Feel very fortunate that no one got hurt," said evacuee Dave Kehoe. "Just relieved with that. It's not much of an inconvenience for us at all."

Crews actually have to use inert gas to force the remaining propane out of the pipeline.

There's no timetable on when the repairs will be finished. The sheriff said wind is helping, but the weather could set things back again. "We're going to get as much done as we can, safely, [Thursday night]. Then make a determination to continue through the dark hours or to just go ahead and keep the scene secure and start again in the morning," said Sheriff Graver.

Kinder Morgan oversees the 12-inch pipeline. In all, the company owns an interest in, or operates, approximately 80,000 miles of pipeline.

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