Five agencies respond to oil well fire in Powder Wash
Five agencies responded Thursday to a report of an oil well fire that consumed a semi-truck and trailer.
No injuries were reported.
Dennis Jones, a battalion chief with Craig Fire/Rescue, said a page came in at approximately 11:15 a.m.
Thursday that an oil well was on fire near Powder Wash, a camp approximately 75 miles northwest of Craig.
Deputies from the Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, firefighters from Maybell Fire Department, and emergency medical technicians from Maybell and The Memorial Hospital in Craig all responded to the fire.
When Craig firefighters arrived on the scene shortly after noon, the fire was “mostly” out, Jones said.
Although no injuries were reported, a semi-truck and trailer leased to Iowa Tank Lines was completely destroyed, Jones said.
The fire was fully contained and first responders returned home at approximately 1:30 p.m., Jones said.
Sheriff's Office Deputy Alec Brown was one of the first responders on the scene.
An ongoing investigation has thus far pointed to a faulty heater in a 300-gallon holding tank as the cause of the blaze, Brown said.
Oil holding tanks typically feature natural gas heaters that warm oil well condensate, providing a smoother transition of fluid from the tank to the transport truck.
It appears one of the transfer pipe seals had a leak and allowed external air to enter the storage tank.
“When you add air to a small fire, you tend to end up with a big fire,” Brown said.
The fire spread rapidly from the transfer pipes to the truck, Brown said.
In addition to the semi-truck, there was damage to the transfer pipes and exterior wall of the holding tank, Jones said.
Although the damage caused by the fire caused oil to leak from the holding tank, the fire did not spread to any nearby buildings, equipment or foliage.
According to drilling regulations, operators are required to dig a protective soil bank around holding tanks as a safety precaution for accidents such as this one, Brown said.
Brown described the protective bank as looking similar to a moat.
“When I arrived on scene, there was a significant amount of oil that was still on fire,” Brown said.
“But it did not spread beyond the tanks because of the protective bank.”
Authorities do not know which company is operating the well that caught fire.