Vandals cause pipeline explosion with stolen equipment

Vandals digging with stolen construction equipment hit a high-pressure propylene gas pipeline, causing an explosion that resulted in approximately $1 million in damage. The incident, which occurred Sept. 27 in New Caney, Texas, might be linked to a similar crime that happened in Porter, Texas, in August.

Investigators say the explosion occurred after vandals stole an excavator and bucket truck from the East Montgomery County Fairgrounds and moved the excavator nearby to dig. When the excavator’s shovel hit the pipeline, the highly flammable gas exploded into a fire that burned for six hours.

New Caney law enforcement officials think the thieves used all-terrain vehicles to get to the site and are asking for tips about ATVs in the area.

Police say the perpetrators who caused the fire had a hand in another case of equipment vandalism that occurred Aug. 18. In that episode, heavy construction equipment was started at a jobsite and used to topple power poles. That incident also resulted in $1 million in damage.

“We’re looking at this as possibly connected,” Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams told The Houston Chronicle. “It takes a lot of assumptions, but there are enough similarities.”