Carmichael Community Bears Scars of Explosion

By: Stephen Bowers Email
By: Stephen Bowers Email

The trees are still charred. The ruins of two homes are still where they almost melted when the liquid propane pipeline exploded near the Carmichael community in southeastern Clarke County.

"It was just a normal day in Clarke County until the explosion happened and then it was total chaos," said Sheriff Todd Kemp.

"This line travels a long distance, but for it to happen right here in this little community here, it was tragedy," said District 5 county supervisor Tony Fleming. "You come down here hoping no one got hurt. We find out we lost some lives, people that we knew."

The cost to the Dixie Pipeline Company was over $3.5 million. The cost to the Carmichael community was two lives, five homes, and a feeling of unease.

Just two years later, many of the same people are still living near the pipeline.

"This is home for a lot of these people," said Fleming. "And of course, where are they going to move off to? This is homeland where they were raised and all that. They want to be back home. You hope, just like lightning, you hope you don't ever get struck twice. And that's what they're thinking. But it is a concern when people come back and relocate right next to where one of these tragedies happened."

Kemp remembers the day and how he and others were impacted.

"Upon our arrival, I was met by one of the victim's father. That was a very traumatic event for me as well as some of the fire personnel and some of the deputies," said Kemp. "He was stating that his daughter had been killed."

In its report on the explosion, the National Transportation Safety Board took direct aim at Dixie Pipeline. It stated, among other things, that better pipeline testing might have prevented the explosion. It also found that the company had not included the Carmichael community in its safety education program.


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