Residents evacuated after lightning hits shale gas plant

    The owners of a Marcellus Shale gas refinery in southwestern Pennsylvania say it will remain closed until inspectors can assess the damage caused by a lightning strike that caused a small fire and prompted nearby residents to be evacuated.

    The Markwest Energy Partners facility in Chartiers Township was struck about 6 p.m. Wednesday, causing a small fire.

    Witnesses and Washington County 911 officials say a smell of natural gas and a vapor cloud were reported, which prompted officials to evacuate dozens of residents who lived within two miles of the plant.

    MarkWest spokesman Robert McHale says no employees were injured.

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    The evacuation order was lifted about 9:30 p.m., though McHale says the plant will remain closed until an inspection confirms the plant is safe.

    The plant is located near Route 519, about 15 miles southwest of Pittsburgh.

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