Tanker fire lights up night sky over well site

CARROLLTON – An investigation is underway as to what caused a tanker truck to burst into flames at a gas and oil well near Carrollton Friday evening.

Several fire departments were called to the Brace West well site, off state Route 9 north of the village around 8:11 p.m. Friday.

Upon arrival, they found a tanker truck on fire.

According to the Carroll County Sheriff’s office, firefighters from Carrollton Village, Carroll County, Fox Township, Augusta and Hanover Township were on hand to contain the fire. Hazmat was also called for cleanup.

The fire was still burning late into the evening, and firefighters were later told to let the fire burn, the sheriff’s department said.

In a statement released early Saturday morning, Derek Smith, senior director of health, safety and environment for Rex Energy, the operator of the well, stated that the accident took place during a routine condensate transfer.

“In addition to the tanker truck, two holding tanks for condensate located on the site were involved, but the well itself was not affected,” Smith said. “There were no injuries and the well was quickly and effectively shut-in.”

Shut-in, according to the company, means that gas flow from the well is turned off from below, and all appropriate steps to secure the integrity of the well bore are executed.

“Rex Energy has contacted the appropriate regulatory officials in Ohio and will work with them closely in the coming days to determine the cause of this incident,” Smith said. “We thank the local first responders for their efforts as they work to extinguish the fire.”

Carrollton Village firefighters returned to the site around 11 a.m. Saturday and extinguished the rest of the fire, and first responders and company safety personnel used thermal cameras to look for additional hot spots.

“After inspecting the location, it does not appear that any condensate was released or entered the environment from the well site infrastructure or the holding tanks,” Smith said. “A small amount of condensate was released from the tanker truck during the incident.”

Smith also spoke about the site’s impact and clean-up options.

“There was minimal impact to the ground and no impact off of the immediate location of the fire,” Smith said. “Rex Energy is actively engaged in the clean-up effort and ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) had approved the remediation plan.”

The well will remain closed until the investigation is complete and the well is restored, which can take between one to two weeks.