A wildfire raging through the heart of the US Midwest is making a rapid advance on the US’s second-largest pipeline.
The blaze is now threatening several counties near the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which is being built to carry crude oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast.
The flames were burning at about 11:45am (local time) on Wednesday in the small town of Jasper, about 15 miles (24km) west of the Missouri River.
A fire department spokesperson told the Associated Press that firefighters were able to put out the blaze by about 5pm local time (16:30 GMT) and that no homes were destroyed.
“The fire has been contained and no injuries have been reported,” said Jasper Fire Chief Jeff Brown.
The pipeline was approved by President Donald Trump last year and is being constructed in Nebraska, Texas and Iowa.
The project is one of the country’s biggest, with plans to bring 1.3 billion barrels of oil a day from Canada into the US.
However, some environmentalists have said the pipeline is being “poisoned” by heavy metals, particularly copper, and is in danger of being shut down prematurely.
“It’s been a terrible, terrible, awful day,” said Mark Stokes, an environmental lawyer at the Center for Biological Diversity.
“We don’t know what’s going to happen to the Keystone pipeline.”
President Barack Obama said in March that the pipeline was “probably the most expensive piece of infrastructure we have” in the country.
But he has not yet ruled out the pipeline’s termination.
He told a group of business leaders in Chicago that the decision would be based on environmental assessments.
“I am going to make a decision, based on those environmental assessments, about how to terminate this project,” he said.
“And that decision will have to be based not on politics, but on science.”
The US Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) confirmed to Reuters that a pipeline fire was burning near the border with Canada.
The fire had started about 2km (1.4 miles) from the pipeline.
“There is no immediate threat to the pipeline, but it is a significant threat to communities in the pipeline corridor,” the agency said in a statement.
A spokesperson for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it was monitoring the situation closely.”EPA is aware of the fire and will be issuing a statement in the near future,” said EPA spokesperson Jessica Rich.
The Keystone XL project is expected to generate $8.5 billion in annual economic activity for the state of Nebraska and help the state expand its oil infrastructure.
The line is expected cost around $4.4 billion, but there has been a lot of speculation about whether it will be profitable.