A natural gas pipeline ruptured and exploded in northwestern Ontario, creating a fireball that made one resident feel like "the world was coming to an end."

Police said there were no injuries in the blast that occurred around midnight Saturday near Beardmore, Ont., about 170 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay.

The flames shot up "a couple hundred feet in the air" and were spotted by airplanes flying over the area, said Sgt. Greg Moore of the Ontario Provincial Police.

Darlene Enders and her family were among a number of residents forced to leave their homes while police investigated the blast.

"It seemed like the world was coming to an end," Enders said Sunday from her home in Beardmore.

"The sky lit right up _ it was like daylight _ and the house started vibrating," the 51-year-old said. "We were scared to go out and scared to stay in."

Residents of the small town gathered at a community centre and were allowed to return home within about an hour, Moore said.

Highway 11 through the area was closed until about 8 a.m. Sunday while emergency crews extinguished the flames and turned off the gas.

Earlier, Staff-Sgt. Carl Pettigrew of the Ontario Provincial Police told The Canadian Press it was "a substantial blast."

"When I arrived a couple of hours after the blast, actually, you could smell it in the air," he said.

Pettigrew said the explosion happened two kilometres from the nearest home.

Enders and her family drove around for an hour before heading back to their home, she said. But the excitement kept them up half the night, she added.

"We can laugh about it today, but at the time... it was scary," she said.

The Transportation Safety Board was investigating the crash.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation accidents.