Friday, February 17, 2017

One oil worker with Trinity Operating LLC injured following oil well explosion in Pittsburg County

Updated: February 16, 2017 6:24 PM CDT

Kevin Enloe, director of McAlester/Pittsburg County Emergency Management, left, stands near the scene of an oil field explosion Thursday near Quinton in Pittsburg County. [Kevin Harvison, The McAlester News-Capital via AP]

QUINTON, PITTSBURG COUNTY, OK — At least one person was hurt Thursday in a natural gas well explosion in eastern Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the explosion happened near Quinton in Pittsburg County, about 100 miles southeast of Tulsa. Troopers were called out to assist the county sheriff's office about 12:30 p.m.

The well owner, Houston-based Trinity Operating LLC, said one injured employee was taken to a Tulsa hospital. The condition of the injured person was not immediately available.

Trinity said an investigation was underway to determine what sparked the fire.

"We followed established safety protocols and the fire was extinguished," Trinity said in a statement. "Nothing is more important than the safety of our employees and the safe operation of our facilities."

The Pittsburg County Emergency Management Office told Tulsa television station KTUL that multiple volunteer fire departments converged on the site. The station reported that emergency management crews and the county sheriff's office also were on the scene.

The incident briefly closed a nearby state highway. 



The fire is out now but gas is still leaking from one spot, so the oil company is working now to get that under control.

Pittsburg County emergency manager Kevin Enloe says a gas well exploded when a worker went to open a valve just after noon Thursday.

Enloe said the victim stopped, dropped and rolled before another worker ran over with an extinguisher.

That worker was able to stop the victim from burning and moved him to a safe spot away from the fire.

"I think he played a huge role as far as his actions to protect his coworker and to extinguish the fire. The burns could have certainly been a lot worse had he not been there to help his coworker," Enloe said.

After the victim was moved, there were still wells on fire, shooting flames as high as 10 feet at times.

Multiple fire agencies worked together with the Trinity, the oil company, to come up with a plan on the best way to attack the fire and ended up putting it out a few hours after the explosion.

No one else was injured, and an exact cause is under investigation. Officials said the well that exploded had been worked on Tuesday. Maintenance workers arrived after 5 p.m. Thursday and appeared to be working on the wells.

Enloe said the fire burned the victim from the waist down, with the most severe burns below his knees.

He was flown to a Tulsa hospital and is expected to survive.

The Pittsburg County community is a small one, so many of the emergency responders know the victim."He's a good guy," Enloe said. "He's a family man. He actually used to work with the Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office, so he's an upstanding citizen.