Safety Plan to Rescue in Fracking Rig Fire

Tuesday, January 19, 2016 @ 06:01 PM gHale

A rig operated by Continental Resources Inc. caught fire six miles east of Chickasha, OK, Jan. 13, but the safety plan truly came into play once workers saw the fire getting out of hand, officials said.

There were no injuries as a result of the fire, and the blaze is out, said the official with the county Emergency Management Department.

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Continental was doing a completion on the rig at the time of the fire, the county official said. He did not know whether the fire was at an oil or gas rig.

Firefighters at the scene said there were 60 workers at the site when the fire broke out.

According to a diagram from the University of Kansas, the frack pumps caught fire and all of the trucks connected by metal piping ended up completely destroyed in the fire. All 22 trucks cost about $1.8 million apiece.

Despite that, the Grady County Fire Chief said it could have been much worse.

“Yesterday, when we arrived on the scene, the first thing we did is figured out what hazardous chemicals might be there, what might happen if they mixed with water, what might happen if they mixed together, what catastrophic event would we have if we made a mistake like that,” said Grady County Fire Chief Buddy Meyers.

Chief Meyers says they took an offensive approach to keep the fire away from the worst chemicals.

“Some of these chemicals, if they mixed with water, if they caught on fire, if they mixed with each other, could’ve caused an explosion. Well, the evacuation distance was one half mile away,” said Meyers.

Luckily, that scenario didn’t happen and the fire was out in about four hours.

Thursday morning, workers were on the scene with a crane to remove the boom from another crane on scene that suffered damage in the fire.

Despite the heavy damage, quite a bit ended up saved.

“About $50 million worth of other equipment. We saved the chemicals. We saved the trucks that are transporting the chemicals. We saved the tank battery, saved the well head. We saved the crane.”

And, lives ended up spared not only because of the fire fighting but the emergency plans in place for the oil field crews.

“When the fire first started, they attempted to control it with their fire extinguishers. When they realized that wasn’t possible, they initiated their emergency action plan, and everybody evacuated safely,” Meyers said.