Explosion & Fire at Wheeling Area Well Pad Burns to Employees

by Duane Nichols on August 15, 2023

Franz Thoman well pad on Cherry Lane north of Wheeling in Ohio County, WV

Explosion at Ohio County WV well pad sends two to hospital, prompts emergency response

From an Article by Gianna Dapra, WTOV News 9, August 14, 2023

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. — Two people were hospitalized after a tank exploded on a well pad in Ohio County. Around 11 p.m. Sunday, a loud bang caught the attention of neighbors – prompting an urgent call to 911. A tank inside the Southwestern Energy Franz Thoman well pad site blew up.

“There was a tank on site, and they knew there was an ignition source,” Ohio County EMA Director Lou Vargo said. “That tank exploded and caught on fire. Obviously, our first priority was the two patents and the other 25 workers there.”

One man suffered first- and second-degree burns and was transported by medical helicopter to a burn unit in Pittsburgh. Another was sent to Wheeling Hospital, then transported to Pittsburgh burn unit. The rest got out safely.

“They immediately shut the pad down, there was an emergency shut off device, they immediately hit that. There are three lines going to that tank, there are valves, they closed those valves,” Vargo said.

“Southwestern Energy regularly conducts emergency trainings with these groups, and we are grateful for thier support to quickly get the incident under control,” compnany officials said in a statement.

Clearview and West Liberty VFD fought the fire and the Wheeling Fire Department brought extra supplies of foam. “Because it’s a well site, there is no close water sources, so we called the tanker task force,” Vargo said. “With the addition of foam, they were able to extinguish the fire. But because of an industrial site and any chance that there would be a further explosion or fire, we were there for several hours just watching it.”

Southwestern Energy took over the fire watch from there. No homes in the surrounding area were damaged in the explosion, Vargo said. An investigation into exactly how the explosion happened is underway.




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