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.

    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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