Five people are missing after a gas well explosion in Pittsburg County, Okla.
The Pittsburg County Sheriff's Office says a fire was reported near Quinton around 8:45 a.m. Monday. More than a dozen agencies responded to the site. Five workers are missing following the explosion but 17 employees made it out. One worker was burned and flown to an area hospital.
The explosion ignited fires in multiple tanks at the site and sparked grass fires in the area.
“There’s a derrick that stands up and several different tanks and pieces of equipment around that location," said Kevin Enloe, Pittsburg County Emergency Management director. "Pretty much everything that is on location is on fire.”
By late afternoon, Enloe said the secondary fires were out but the primary fire continued burning.
Rescue crews searched the surrounding area but haven't made it within 100 feet of the well because of flames and heat. Enloe said gas is still escaping the wellhead but it poses very little threat to area residents and doesn't require any evacuation orders.
Red Mountain and Patterson Drilling were the operators of the well, according to Pittsburg County Emergency Management. The well was reportedly brand new.
Inspectors with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission are on the scene, according to OCC spokesman Matt Skinner. They will determine if rules regarding drilling equipment were followed and also check for any environmental pollution as a result of the incident.
According to OCC, there have been no other incidents with the well or Red Mountain as far back as 2012.
McAlester/Pittsburg County Emergency Management issued a statement just that the fire is out, including the wellhead. Fire departments are on standby to do fire suppression if needed. The well site is closed pending investigation.
Confirmation of any fatalities wasn’t expected to be possible until the fire was extinguished and investigators could get to the scene of the explosion, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office.
“I pray there’s not, but we just don’t know yet,” Elliott said.
Another press conference will be held on Tuesday morning.