Explosion & Fire Involving Gas Processing Equipment in Marshall County, WV

by Duane Nichols on July 26, 2018

Residents alarmed by explosion & fire in rural area

Fire Crews Battle Blaze At Marshall County Well Pad

From an Article by Scott McCloskey, Wheeling Intelligencer, July 24, 2018

Photo: Processing equipment located near a natural gas well site along Sorghum Ridge Road near Sherrard burns Monday morning after an explosion at the site.

SHERRARD — No injuries were reported when an explosion and fire occurred at a Marshall County natural gas well pad at mid-morning Monday.

Sorghum Ridge Road resident Dave Reinbeau had just finished his routine check on his livestock and fences and returned to his home when the explosion occurred within processing equipment at the well pad site.

Reinbeau said he actually saw and felt the initial blast which occurred near the middle of his Sorghum Ridge property after he had returned to his house on the nearby hillside. He said he saw a tanker truck exit the site just seconds before the explosion occurred.

It felt like a force,” said Reinbeau, who went on to explain that he called 911 right away because he knew several workers were on the site. “I knew that those four guys were out there working. That’s all I could think about. I called 911,” Reinbeau said.

Marshall County Office of Emergency Management Director Tom Hart said while no injuries were reported with the blast at the Reinbeau well pad, one worker on the site was evaluated by EMS crews for being overheated. Hart said emergency crews responded to the blast and fire after the initial call came in shortly before 10 a.m.

“There were no injuries, no evacuations. It is under control at this point. They are just waiting for it to burn off so that they can start assessing,” Hart said shortly after responding to the site. “There were actually crews from Williams Energy on scene that were working at the site. The actual well pad is owned by Southwestern Energy.

“When the fire crews arrived on scene, they did experience heavy fire deployment. It was actually processing equipment that was on fire. It was not the well pad itself. There was an explosion prior to first responders arriving on scene, then after the fire departments did arrive, there was a secondary explosion as well,” he added.

Hart said officials decided to let the fire burn itself out. “What they are trying to do is they’re keeping some of the condensate tanks and other equipment cooled down while they let the fire burn off at this point,” Hart explained.

Volunteer fire departments hauled water from a hydrant on W.Va. 88 to the scene of the fire. Hart said the fire was out by 12:36 p.m. Emergency crews cleared the scene at 2 p.m.

Southwestern Energy spokeswoman Christina Fowler said there were no injuries reported. She said they were aware of the problem and it was resolved.

Several of the neighbors living along the ridge called or stopped to check on each other after the blasts. At least one Sherrard resident living nearly a half-mile away reported hearing and feeling the blast inside her house.

Reinbeau said he went to a neighbor’s house located a short distance away because he didn’t know if there was anything “toxic” in the air from the ongoing fire.

“I stayed over there until I found out it wasn’t harmful,” he said. Reinbeau said he checked on dozens of his farm animals following the blast and they all appeared to be fine.

Fire crews from Mount Olivet, Limestone, Sherrard, Glen Dale and Bethlehem volunteer fire departments and the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office responded. The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection also responded to evaluate the scene.

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