Drilling Rig Still Burns After Blast

Wednesday, September 21, 2011 @ 03:09 PM gHale

A massive fire continued to burn one day after a drilling rig exploded in Watonga, OK, and officials are still trying determine the cause.

The Blaine County Sheriff’s Department said the explosion happened around 10 p.m. Monday at a natural gas site just east of Watonga.

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Nearly a dozen workers were at the site drilling for natural gas when they got an alert there was a problem, said Continental Resources officials. Workers got out just minutes before the explosion happened, officials said. No one suffered injuries.

Deputies went door-to-door to evacuate nearby homes. About 25 homes ended up evacuated and most of the families stayed with relatives or at a nearby motel, said Blaine County Sheriff Ricky Ainsworth. By 5 a.m. Tuesday, the sheriff’s department said most of those families were able to return home.

“The flames were probably 100-feet tall,” said Matt Miller, who witnessed the flames. “Periodically, there were explosions with huge flashes.” Miller said the air was thick with debris.

A one mile area around the natural gas site is still shut down. Investigators with the two companies involved, Continental Resources and Patterson Drilling, are at the scene.

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