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Fire keeps residents away from homes 2nd night

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November 15, 2013 10:05 PM EST | AP

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MILFORD, Texas (AP) — A rural North Texas town remained evacuated for a second day and night Friday while work continued to extinguish a gas pipeline fire.

Some residents of a rural North Texas town were escorted to their homes Friday as a nearby Chevron pipeline continued to burn, according to sheriff's officials.

Deputies accompanied Milford residents who needed to retrieve medication or check on pets. Homeowners were allowed to stay only briefly, Ellis County sheriff's Lt. James Saulter said.

Chevron crews worked Friday to plug the liquefied petroleum gas, or LPG, pipeline near Milford, 40 miles south of Dallas. A drilling crew punctured the line Thursday, triggering an explosion and a large fire that could be seen for miles. No injuries were reported.

The evacuation order remained in effect Friday night for the area within a 1½-mile radius from the pipeline puncture, sheriff's spokeswoman Jo Ann Livingston said.

The American Red Cross converted an evacuation shelter in nearby Italy into a respite center after about three dozen people spent the night Thursday, said Red Cross spokeswoman Anita Foster.

Chevron requested the evacuation zone for the town of about 700 residents. The company said concerns over air quality, nearby pipelines and other factors prompted the evacuation.

Jim Barnum, general manager of operations for the Chevron Pipeline Co., apologized Friday on behalf of the company.

"The No. 1 goal for all involved is the protection of life," he said.

The company is monitoring a nearby 14-inch LPG pipeline and was working to empty the line and depressurize it.

Barnum said tests have determined that the air quality in the area is "normal."