Gas rig burning after explosion |

Gas rig burning after explosion

Phillip Yates
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Courtesy Garfield County Sheriff's OfficeAn early morning explosion caused a fire on a wellpad in western Colorado early Wednesday.

RULISON, Colo. ” An explosion rocked a natural gas drilling rig in western Colorado early Wednesday and there is still a fire burning at the site.

The fire is contained to the wellpad, and there were no injuries in the explosion, said Mike Morgan, chief for the Rifle Fire Protection District. Fire crews from Rifle and the Grand Valley Fire Protection District, along with officials from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office responded to the explosion, which occurred at about 1:30 a.m.

The wellpad is south of the Colorado River, east of Rulison.

“We are still here on site,” Morgan said at 10 a.m. “We are trying to get things off the wellpad so we can get the well-shut in.” Williams Production RMT controls the wellsite, and Halliburton Energy Services is assisting with fire suppression efforts at the scene, Morgan said.

After the explosion, crews were immediately evacuated, said Susan Alvillar, a spokeswoman for Williams. A Williams emergency response team also responded to the fire, she said.

No structures were damaged other than the drilling rig, Alvillar said. .

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“They have been letting the fire burn because that is the safest thing to do,” Alvillar said. “They are working on a plan to get water down the hole and hopefully extinguish the fire. They are in the process of implementing that plan now.”

The size of the fire still burning at the scene is about 20 percent of what it was when fire officials arrived on scene, Morgan said.

“The fire has gotten a lot smaller,” he said.

The flames can be seen from Interstate 70, prompting a number of motorists to pull to the shoulder to watch.

The cause of the explosion is under investigation, according to the sheriff’s office.