Eight Fire Departments Control Burning Gas Well in Mercer County, PA

by admin on October 16, 2019

Gas well fire on Vernon Road, West Salem Twp., Mercer County, PA

Firefighters battle blazing gas well in West Salem Township

From an Article by David Dye, Sharon Herald (Penna.), October 15, 2019

WEST SALEM TOWNSHIP — Firefighters from eight departments spent more than four hours Sunday battling a gas well fire in West Salem Township.

West Salem Township fire Chief Bill Brown said Mercer County 911 dispatched his department to the well, located in a field off Vernon Road in the township. The well, which produced natural gas and some crude oil, caught fire after the wellhead’s heater malfunctioned.

“The well was really rolling when our engine got there,” Brown said.

“There was a hazmat risk that the crude oil could flow out onto the ground, and there was concern that the fire may spread to the rest of the field or the oil could get into a nearby waterway,” he said.

Brown said a neighbor brought a bulldozer to help dig earthen dams around the well and contain the flammable material, while firefighters put down absorption pads to soak up water that may have mixed with oil.

Fortunately, West Salem Township firefighters was trained on dealing with gas well fires, and Brown said the firefighters’ first priority was keeping the wellhead cool and preventing any of pipes from rupturing.

“We have a number of wells in the township. We’ve had wells catch on fire from being struck by lightning, we’ve had cars that have struck them and ignited, and there’s a Marcellus Shale well that we monitor,” he said.

Once the wellhead was sufficiently cooled, the well tender and PA-DEP official were able to restrict the flow of gas, which extinguished the fire. As a precaution, firefighters went through the area with meters to make sure any flammable gas had dispersed, Brown said.

Though there were houses around the well, none of the residents were evacuated. One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion, but otherwise there were no injuries, Brown said.

Along with West Salem Township Volunteer Fire Department, departments from Greenville, Jamestown, South Pymatuning, Sheakleyville, Transfer, Hempfield and Burghill-Vernon in Trumbull County responded to battle the blaze. Life Force ambulance service also responded and Transfer fire police controlled traffic in the area, closing a portion of state Route 358.

Mercer County Emergency Management Agency also responded with its hazardous materials trailer. The gas well’s tender and an official from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Oil and Gas were at the scene, Brown said.


See also: Small explosion at Hartford gas well fire prompted evacuation | WKBN.com, Trumbull County, OH, September 21, 2019

HARTFORD, Ohio (WKBN) – Families are now allowed in their houses after a gas well fire in Trumbull County on Friday. People living within a one-mile radius of a gas well were told to evacuate Friday evening. A portion of Ohio Route 7 was also closed because of the fire. The fire behind D&G Machinery on Route 7 has been put out and the gas well has been capped. The evacuation order has since been lifted.

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