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Pipeline involved in wildland fire, Yellowhead County says

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A pipeline was involved in a wildfire in western Alberta on Tuesday, Yellowhead County says.

By the afternoon, the fire 35 kilometres northwest of Edson had grown to 10 hectares in size. 

"On arrival, it was determined that there was pipeline involvement," Yellowhead County wrote online.

"Yellowhead County worked with the gas company to shut the pipeline in. There is no more leaking gas."

TC Energy, owner of the Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. (NGTL) Grande Prairie Mainline, told CTV News Edmonton it was notified of the fire around 11 a.m.

According to the Canada Energy Regulator, early information suggests the 36-inch natural gas pipeline ruptured around 10:45 a.m. north of the intersection of Swanson Road and Emerson Road.

"We are coordinating with emergency first responders," a statement from TC Energy read. "The affected section of the pipeline has been isolated and shut down. There are no reported injuries."

The rupture caused both an initial ignition of natural gas at the rupture site and the wildland fire. The intial ignition was extinguished, according to TC Energy, which said it was helping Alberta Wildfire respond to the larger blaze. 

An update from the provincial service at 7 p.m. said the fire was being held.

Caroline Charbonneau, an Alberta Wildfire information officer in the Edson area, told CTV News Edmonton on Tuesday she couldn't confirm an explosion but that a large flame could be seen "from a distance" by area residents and from nearby major highways.

She added that the current dry grass conditions in the Edson area mean wildfires can catch and burn quickly. She said any spark, hot exhaust or friction near dry vegetation can cause a wildfire.

TC Energy's NGTL pipeline system transports natural gas from Alberta and northeast B.C. to domestic and export markets. The system spans 24,631 kilometres and connects with TC Energy's Canadian Mainline system, Foothills system and other third-party pipelines.

While some of TC Energy's customers were temporarily impacted while the affected pipeline segment was being isolated, the company said late Tuesday afternoon that the remainder of its system was operating normally.

“There are no commercial impacts at this time. We continue to communicate directly with our customers,” the company said.

“We are working closely with regulators and authorities and will cooperate in an investigation of this incident.”

Yellowhead County, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, and the Canada Energy Regulator are all investigating. 

With files from The Canadian Press

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