07/25/2013 09:59 EDT | Updated 09/24/2013 05:12 EDT

Gas line severed, ignites, after Calgary homes crunched by minivan

CALGARY - Firefighters had to deal with a jet of blue flame shooting from a ruptured natural gas line after an out-of-control minivan slammed into some homes in Calgary.

The overnight crash happened when the van climbed a curb in a northwest neighbourhood, struck the veranda on one house, slammed into a second home and sent debris into a third where a gas line ruptured.

The leaking gas caused a small explosion and a subsequent fire extensively scorched two homes and damaged a third, prompting an evacuation of surrounding houses as a precaution.

Fire battalion chief Ernie Molineaux (MAHL'-ih-noh) says crews had to let the ruptured line burn to prevent formation of a gas cloud that could lead to a bigger blast.

It was two hours before utility crews managed to dig up the line and shut off the gas.

Charges are pending against the van driver, who was taken to hospital for treatment of injuries that are not considered serious. (CHQR, The Canadian Press)