CHARLESTON, W.Va. - State transportation officials said it would take at least 24 hours to repair the section of Interstate 77 damaged in Tuesday's massive gas line explosion.
Crews from West Virginia Paving were called to the scene to mill and repave an 800-foot section of the highway scorched by the fire that followed the blast.
Emergency officials said a 20-inch natural gas transmission line suffered a "catastrophic failure" that led to an explosion around 12:40 p.m. Tuesday.
The explosion occurred within a few dozen feet of the interstate.
Emergency officials closed the interstate to all traffic between the Pocatalico exit and the I-77/79 split in Charleston.
Kanawha County Route 21 between Pocatalico and Charleston was limited to emergency vehicles only.
Tom Miller of the Sissonville Volunteer Fire Department said the ruptured line shot flames directly onto the interstate and scorched a nearly quarter-mile swath of land in the surrounding area.
State Department of Transportation spokesman Brent Walker said the intense fire had a devastating effect on the asphalt surface of the highway.
"It was kind of like a flash burn," Walker said.
Some initial reports said flames had melted the roadway, but Walker said that was not correct.
"It evaporated the emulsifier -- it turned it to powder," he said. "It's just cracked the asphalt."
Even before emergency crews had cleared the blast area, state transportation officials began working with West Virginia Paving to begin an emergency repair project.