Gas well fire may have been started by welder's torch

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by JIM DOUGLAS / WFAA

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

wfaa.com

Posted on March 19, 2010 at 8:25 PM

Gas well fire

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DECATUR - An explosion and fire at a gas well site near Decatur sent two workers to the hospital late Friday morning.

A condensation tank that collects liquid by-product blew up. The blast was so big that it sent a storage tank rocketing up in the air. It landed about 30 yards away. Lids blew off two other tanks.

"The first one was like a sonic boom," said Clifford Buchanan, who lives nearby the site. "The next two were like cannons."

Buchanan felt the blast, but said his wife heard it about eight miles away.

"I was sitting on a stool talking on the phone and it nearly knocked me off the stool," he said.

It scared Buchanan's dairy cows, too. He said they hid behind his barn for several hours.

Fire investigators believe a welder's torch might have sparked the explosion just south of downtown Decatur. One worker went to a nearby hospital by private vehicle. A second was flown to Parkland Hospital after complaining of breathing problems. Authorities say both had only first-degree burns.

"I would say they were extremely lucky," said Marshal Mark Dodd, Wise County fire marshal.

He said the railroad commission will investigate the cause of the fire.

Fire crews from Decatur and Bridgeport used foam to smother the flames. Decatur Deputy Chief Deroy Bennett said area firefighters have handled similar blazes in the past and did not have a lot of trouble with this one.

E-mail: jdouglas@wfaa.com

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