Three injured, one seriously burned in tank battery fire near Briggsdale | CraigDailyPress.com

Three injured, one seriously burned in tank battery fire near Briggsdale

Tyler Silvy, Joe Moylan/Greeley Tribune

Workers and emergency responders assess the scene of an oil and gas fire Saturday morning east of Briggsdale in northeast Weld County.

Three people were injured, including one who was seriously burned, as a result of a fire Saturday at an oil and gas tank battery near Briggsdale.

About 9 a.m., the Weld County Sheriff's Office responded to the fire in the area of Colo. 14 and Weld County Road 83 just east of Briggsdale. When deputies arrived on scene, they found an oil tank battery that was fully engulfed in flames. Initial information suggests the fire started during maintenance operations, according to a Weld County Sheriff's Office news release.

Three crew members who were working on the tank battery were injured during the incident. Two out of the three sustained minor injuries and were taken by ambulance to North Colorado Medical Center.  The third sustained severe burns and was flown to NCMC by helicopter. Denver-based Mallard Exploration is the site operator, according to data available on the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission website. The workers were contractors, according to a news release from Mallard Exploration sent Saturday afternoon.

In a statement sent Saturday afternoon, Mallard Exploration officials said there is no current oil and natural gas production taking place at the site.

"While one of the contractors was working on an out-of-service storage tank, sparks from a power tool ignited some residual oil and vapor inside the tank," according to the Mallard Exploration release.

An NCMC ambulance left the scene with at least one of the patients about 9:45 a.m. The helicopter landed a few minutes later to take the burned patient to the hospital. Then two more ambulances left the scene.

Recommended Stories For You

Company officials say none of the injuries are life threatening.

"Our thoughts are with our contractors and their families at this time," according to the release.

Eastbound Colo. 14 was closed at Weld County Road 83 beginning about 9:30 a.m. And westbound Colo. 14 was closed at Weld 85, with the scene between the two roadblocks.

In addition to the Weld County Sheriff's Office, rangers with Colorado Park's & Wildlife and Ault police officers responded to the scene to conduct traffic control. The fire was extinguished by the Briggsdale Fire Department.The roads were re-opened about 11 a.m. when investigators with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission arrived on scene. Officials with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration also were expected to respond to the incident.

The oil and gas development is on the north side of Colo. 14, about 40 miles northeast of Greeley. One of the six tanks in the tank battery was misshapen and charred, and debris was scattered about 100 yards in all directions as workers and first responders surveyed the scene. The site is more than 2,000 feet away from any other structures.

Danielle Lewis, who lives on Weld 95, said her house shook like there was an earthquake. Lewis said she also noticed a black cloud shortly afterward.

The Tribune and other media were kept about a quarter mile from the scene, even after the Colo. 392 was opened.

The explosion comes a little more than a week before ballots will be cast for or against a controversial oil and gas setback initiative called Proposition 112, which would increase the distance between oil and gas wells and schools, homes and bodies of water to 2,500 feet. As is the case in much of Weld County, including Greeley, "No on 112" signs dotted the sides of the roads in and around Briggsdale.

— Tyler Silvy is the deputy editor for The Greeley Tribune. Reach him at tsilvy@greeleytribune.com. Connect with him at Facebook.com/TylerSilvy or @TylerSilvy on Twitter.