Natural Gas Prices

Hundreds evacuated after Wash. gas plant explosion

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A fire broke out on Monday at a Plymouth, Washington, natural gas storage facility operated by Williams Partners, and was followed by an explosion, a local fire department official told Reuters.

The fire started at the facility early on Monday and was followed by an explosion in one storage tank, said Ed Dunbar, a captain with the Benton County Fire District office. Residents within a two-mile (3.2 km) radius of the area were told to evacuate, Dunbar said.

According to its website, Williams operates a liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage facility in Plymouth. To create LNG, natural gas is cooled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit at which point it condenses into a clear, orderless liquid, according to Williams' website. The LNG is stored in large tanks, built with a double-wall design, Williams said.

In a statement, the company said that one employee was treated for injuries, and the fire — which the company said did not appear to be caused by a pipeline rupture—was mostly extinguished. It added that there was "no hazardous vapor" from stockpiled natural gas.

"The company's top priority right now is ensuring the safety of our employees and surrounding community, as well as cooperating with the local authorities and regulatory agencies," the statement said.

Shares in The Williams Cos Inc fell 1.2 percent in afternoon trading, to near $40.

--By Reuters. CNBC contributed to this report.