Published on Feb 13, 2014 by Edgar Snyder

Massive Natural Gas Well Explosion in Greene County, PA

industrial explosion

Gas Well Fire Burned for Four Days, Presented Great Danger for Those Battling the Blaze

FEBRUARY 19, 2014 UPDATE—After a natural gas well exploded in Greene County, Pennsylvania, a fire raged at the well site for four days following the blast. The flames, fed by natural gas continuously flowing from the well, created an extremely hazardous environment for crews attempting to extinguish the inferno.

The initial explosion of the Chevron-owned gas well already injured one employee and potentially took the life of another—a contractor who has been missing since the explosion. Then, as fire experts and emergency crews worked to clear the well pad of debris and bring in equipment to cap the well, the unrelenting flames threatened to cause additional harm. Flares from the well made it very dangerous for crews trying to pull trucks, tanks, and other metal that can heat up away from the well pad.

Although Chevron believed that the gas well would need to be capped for the fire to finally be contained, the blaze reportedly burned out by itself. Contractors at the site are now working to ensure the fire does not reignite again in the future.

FEBRUARY 13, 2014 ORIGINAL STORY—The flames are still burning in Greene County, Pennsylvania. Three days after a natural gas well, owned by Chevron, burst into a fiery explosion, the blaze has still yet to be extinguished.

The exact cause of the explosion is still unknown. However, the well fire, considered significantly larger than a typical well fire, began as crews were bringing the previously drilled and hydraulically fractured wells into production by hooking up piping from the wells to gathering lines that lead away from the wells.

Although the Department of Environmental Protection maintains that the continuing natural gas fire can be contained and capped in the next day or two, the damage has already occurred. Nineteen employees were working at the site at the time of the explosion. One injured employee was sent to the hospital, while one contractor is still missing and is presumed dead.

The primary issue facing fire experts as they try to contain the blaze is the uncontrolled blowout of natural gas from the well. They are concerned with the environmental impact if harmful chemicals from the fire spread and potentially enter into a stream. One member of the industry asserted that the incident "is a serious reminder of the dangers we face in our industry every day."

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Sources: “DEP: Greene County gas well fire will be contained.” Post-gazette.com. February 13, 2014.
"Team faces hazards in battling Greene County gas well fires.” Post-Gazette.com. February 15, 2014.
“Natural gas fire goes out by itself in Greene County.” Bizjournals.com. February 17, 2014.
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