At around 6:45 this morning a fire was reported at a Chevron natural gas well in Greene County, Pennsylvania, just north of the West Virginia border. As of early afternoon, one person had been injured and another was still missing, according to statements from the company.
Twenty workers were on the scene at the time of the fire. While Chevron did not initially know the cause of the blast, the fire chief on scene recently said it was caused by natural gas. According to Chevron spokeswoman Lee Ann Wainwright, the well was in the final stages of being put in production.
BREAKING: Attica Fire Chief says explosion was caused by natural gas. 2 blocks evacuated.
— Liz Gelardi (@LizGelardiFOX59) February 11, 2014
Video taken from a helicopter over the scene shows the flames engulfing drilling and processing equipment.
“State Rep. Pam Snyder, D-Jefferson, said state police have closed the roads around the well on Bald Hill Ridge Road in Dunkard Township,” reported the local Observer-Reporter. “State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister said police have set up a half-mile perimeter around the well site following the explosion.”
A specialized fire-handling crew is on route from Texas to the scene of the explosion, but it will likely be at least several hours until the fire is under control, according to the Observer-Reporter.
Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett recently proposed allowing gas drilling in the state’s parks and forests after a four-year ban, listing energy independence and economic security as reasons to ramp up fracking the massive Marcellus Shale region. Drilling on public lands fragments the land via pad construction, roads, and pipelines and makes the habitat more vulnerable to chemical spills or explosive fires.