Information on the fire reached the emergency situations ministry for Tatarstan at 18.10 Moscow time yesterday, reports Interfax. “There was an explosion followed by an outburst of fire on one of the underground branches of the gas pipeline” the press service said. A rupture occurred in the Yamburg-Western Border pipeline in the Volga River region of Tatarstan, about 700 kilometers east of Moscow, according to Emergency Situations Ministry spokesman Viktor Beltsov and the regional subsidiary of Russian gas monopoly OAO Gazprom.
They said the affected section was shut off and gas was being transported through parallel lines, leaving supplies unaffected. The sound of the fire sparked by the rupture could be heard in Arsk, a small city 10-15 kilometers away, and the glow from the flames could be seen for dozens of kilometers around, the Interfax news agency reported.
It took 11 hours for the firefighters to put down the blaze, which was caused by gas burning off. The RIA-Novosti news agency reported that firefighters were taking measures to prevent the flames from reaching a nearby village, which was evacuated.
The pipeline carries gas from western Siberia to Russia’s border for transport into Europe, which relies on Russia for more than two-fifths of its gas. The affected section, which is 1.4 meters in diameter, was shut down to isolate the emergency, according to Beltsov and a statement from the regional Gazprom subsidiary, OOO Tattransgaz. Tattransgaz said repairs would begin after the gas in the affected section burns off, AP reported.