Greene gas well fire extinguished

February 16, 2014
Employees of Wild Well Control of Houston, Tx. remove equipment at the Greene County Fairgrounds in Waynesburg to be used in extinquishing the fire at a Dunkark Township gas well. - Tara Kinsell / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

A blaze that was burning since Tuesday at a Chevron Appalachia gas well site in Dunkard Township, Greene County, self-extingushed Saturday about 3 p.m.

Chevron officials confirmed the blaze extinguished Sunday, waiting to release the information until they were confident “the well would stay in its current condition.”

Over the next 24 hours, Chevron officials said they plan to continue to monitor air quality, finalize plans for the removal of the last piece of equipment on site and work to get water resource efforts in place.

Scott Perry, deputy secretary for the office of oil and gas management for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, said the lone piece of equipment on the well pad, a large crane, was acting as an ignition source. The twisted and charred crane has since cooled. It will eventually be removed from the area with a specialized piece of equipment brought in from Texas.

Perry also said gas levels have decreased. Blake Loke, incident commander for Chevron, was unable to provide an explanation for the decreased levels at this time.

The well fire is a result of an explosion that happened about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday at Chevron’s Lanco 7H well, which left one worker with minor injuries and another worker still unaccounted for.

Pennsylvania State Police is handling the investigation into the unaccounted person, and Chevron refused to provide details.

The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.

Although the fire is out, Perry said the site remains volatile.

“Something as small as static electrically could reignite it,” he said.

Loke said Wild Well Control, a company based in Houston, Texas, hired to control the well site, assessed the well head.

Efforts will be continued to set up tanks and hoses on site for water resources, according to Loke. Loke said fresh water is being trucked in, and the temporary grant Chevron was issued to withdraw water from Dunkard Creek will be used as backup.

Loke could not provide a time frame for when the crane would be removed or when crews would begin to replace the well cap. He said Chevron’s continued foucs is on safety.

“We don’t want to assume (anything),” he said. “We will continue to protect our employees and the public, and prevent the escalation of this event.”

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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