GUADALAJARA, Mexico – A natural gas pipeline owned by Mexican state oil monopoly Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, caught fire Saturday when individuals were robbing fuel from a stretch near the western city of Tlajomulco, officials said.
According to authorities in Tlajomulco, part of the Guadalajara metropolitan area, flames up to 30 meters (100 feet) caused a nearby vehicle to explode that might have belonged to the fuel thieves.
Jalisco state and municipal firefighters brought the fire under control around noon, with no fatalities or people injured.
They reported that the fire broke out Saturday morning when unidentified individuals tried to “milk” the pipeline located in the small town of El Zapote, a few miles from Guadalajara International Airport.
At least two homes in the area were evacuated because of the risk of an even bigger explosion.
Theft of fuel from Pemex pipelines, known in Mexico as “milking,” is common, with both individuals and organized crime groups involved in the illegal activity.
This is the second occasion this month that a Pemex pipeline has caught fire because of fuel thievery in Tlajomulco.
Despite the thick smoke rising from the burning pipeline, flights at the local airport continued normally, aviation officials said.