Sheriff: Warnings let workers escape Okla. blast

AP News
Posted: Sep 20, 2011 2:50 PM
Sheriff: Warnings let workers escape Okla. blast

Workers at an Oklahoma natural gas rig that exploded had enough prior warning that they were all able to make it to safety, the county sheriff said Tuesday.

About a dozen workers at the well operated by Continental Resources Inc. managed to flee the site before the blast Monday night, Blaine County Sheriff Ricky Ainsworth said. A Continental spokeswoman confirmed there were no injuries.

"It was a very huge fireball coming from the rig, and it's still burning," Ainsworth said Tuesday. "It has settled down some, but it's definitely still burning."

Continental spokeswoman Kristin Miskovsky said the well could keep burning for several days before the damaged rig can be cleared and the fire extinguished.

The explosion and ensuing fire forced the evacuation of about 20 homes within a two-mile radius, Ainsworth said. Some residents were allowed to return home but those living closest to the rig were not. A shelter was set up at the Blaine County fairgrounds for displaced residents.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, and a well-control team was brought to the site to assess the situation, Miskovsky said.

Patterson-UTI Drilling LLC owns and operates the rig, but Continental Resources is the operator of the well, Miskovsky said.


Information from: The Oklahoman,