PA Well Blaze Out; 1 Still Missing

Wednesday, February 19, 2014 @ 06:02 PM gHale

A natural gas well fire in Dunkard Township, PA, that injured one worker and left another unaccounted for has gone out, Chevron officials said.

Chevron said the blaze at the well and an adjacent well in Dunkard Township, about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh, was no longer burning as of 3 p.m. Saturday. Officials said the blaze had been going out intermittently but gas kept hitting a superheated crane left on the pad and reigniting.

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Company spokesman Kent Robertson said late Sunday it’s premature to speculate what caused the flames to go out but “there is not enough fuel being emitted to sustain combustion, and with the cooling of the crane, the ignition source has been removed.”

Workers will need to move the crane, and they have brought in special equipment to do that, and they will fill the water tanks installed at the site to cool the well site and equipment so they can work safely, he said.

Blake Loke, company operations manager in Moon Township and the incident commander for the fire, said workers will try to cap the wells but officials are going to treat the fire as if it’s still burning. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Robertson said the company is using considerable resources to maintain and clear roads so personnel and equipment can go out to the site.

Loke said monitors were measuring no gas from 300 feet away and minimal gas at 200 feet away. Scott Perry, deputy secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas Management, said the gas poses no public health or safety risk.

State police are handling the investigation of a worker, employed by Houston-based Cameron International, who has been missing since the well erupted into flames Feb. 11. A spokeswoman at the Waynesburg barracks said Monday that there was no update on the progress of the case.

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