UPDATE 04/24 12:45pm: The evacuation order has been lifted, residents are being allowed to return to their homes.
An evacuation order remains in effect for residents of Opal after an explosion at a nearby natural gas processing plant Wednesday night.
The Williams company shut off gas to its plant just outside of Opal shortly after the explosion, but residual gas in the lines is fueling an ongoing fire. The company says it's using drones and helicopter footage to pinpoint to site of the blaze in hopes of further reducing its fuel supply. Opal’s hundred residents haven’t been allowed to return to their homes, but highways have been reopened.
Gas processed at the Opal plant is sent via pipeline across the country. Wyoming Pipeline Authority director Brian Jeffries says because of the time of year, the disaster hasn’t caused as much disruption as it could have.
“This isn’t occurring on a day when it’s 20 below in Chicago or 20 degrees in San Francisco," Jeffries says. "So there’s just a whole lot more slack in the system that can accommodate an outage like this.”
Opal is a hub for numerous natural gas processing facilities, and the Opal hub price is often used as a reference point in natural gas markets. Other facilities in the area remain open.