UPDATE: Two Killed in Gas Pipeline Explosion in Lee County Identified

A natural gas line was compromised, prompting the explosion and killing two.

LEE COUNTY - UPDATE:  12/6):  The Lee County Sheriff's Department has released the names of the men involved in the natural gas pipeline explosion which left two men dead.

The workers who were killed are Rory Miller, age 59 of Amboy and Ryan S. Miller, age 30 of Oregon.

Michael Koster, age 20 of Sterling, is listed in critical condition at OSF St. Anthony Hospital in Rockford while 20-year-old Kyler Acklund of West Brooklyn was treated and released.

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(UPDATE:  3:15pm):  Two men are confirmed dead and two seriously hurt after a tractor hit an underground natural gas line, causing an explosion.

The call came in at 9:02pm for an explosion north of Rt. 38 leading to a large fire.

First responders arrived to find a large fire coming from a large gas pipeline which was extinguished when the pipeline's owner, Kinder Morgan, cut gas to it.

A preliminary investigation determined that workers in the area were installing field tile when a tractor became stuck.  The workers attempted to use a second tractor to pull out the first tractor when the tractor struck the 20" cross-country gas line as it sunk deeper into the ground, striking and cracking the underground pipeline.

Two men were pronounced dead at the scene, while two more were taken by medical helicopter to a Rockford hospital, where one is in critical condition while the other is listed in stable.  Police say neighbors aided the two victims and took them to a local hospital from where they then flown to Rockford.  The names of the victims are not yet being released.

The area is secure and safe, and there were no evacuations although State Highway 38 was blocked for a time.  Pipeline officials say a second large 24" gas pipeline near the area was not damaged, and there was no loss of service.  Because the pipeline is a federally regulated, the NTSB will assist in the investigation.

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The Lee County Sheriff's Department and Illinois State Police respond to a large explosion near Nachusa Tuesday morning.

County officials say a natural gas line was "compromised," creating the explosion. They did not yet confirm any fatalities, although a coroner was called to the scene.

A gas company there making sure the gas line is now safe. The State Fire Marshal is handling the investigation.

The Lee County Sheriff's Department will be holding a media briefing at 3 p.m. Eyewitness News will be there.


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