Cause of western Pa. gas well fire still unknown

AP News
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Posted: Feb 25, 2011 9:15 AM
Cause of western Pa. gas well fire still unknown

State investigators have confirmed that fumes escaping from a storage tank ignited, causing a western Pennsylvania Marcellus gas well fire that injured three workers _ but they still don't know what caused the fumes to catch fire.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokeswoman Katy Gresh says the contractors were doing maintenance work when fumes from one of five 500-barrel storage tanks caught fire, causing the other tanks to explode about 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Chesapeake Energy Corp. drilling site in Avella. One worker was in critical condition with burns, though authorities believe all three men will survive.

Chesapeake crews were preparing the wells for flaring, a process in which the initial gas from a well is lit so it can be burned off. Investigators say it's possible that winds caused those flames to ignite the fumes escaping from the tanks holding "wet gas" or condensate.