Houstonia, Mo. ( -- A natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded in Houstonia, Mo. causing several nearby buildings to catch fire late Thursday night.

The pipeline, owned by the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co., exploded just before midnight sending flames high. Eye witnesses tell News 4 that the flames shot hundreds of feet into the sky. Reports out of Sedalia, which is 15 miles from the pipeline, indicate that tremors from the blast were felt in the area.

News 4's Mike Colombo spoke with Houstonia resident Kathy Schneider who lives a few hundred yards from the explosion site.

Schneider, describing the first few minutes after the explosion, said, 'We just saw this huge 300 foot wide ball of flames roaring. We heard things pinging against the house. We don't know if we were going to have a home to come back to.'

Officials requested a five mile area surrounding the plant be evacuated as crews worked to shut the natural gas valve off and extinguish the fire.News 4 learned residents were allowed to return to their homes Friday morning.

According to reports, the Panhandle Eastern Pipeline Co. dealt with a similar explosion in 2008 in Cooper County.Houstonia is located between Columbia and Kansas City, Mo.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the explosion. At this time, no injuries have been reported.

Stay tuned to News 4 and for the latest information.

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