WELLSBURG - An official with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said the cause of the fire Monday at a gas well site near Genteel Ridge Road hasn't been verified, but is believed to have originated from a break in a hydraulic line from a pump.
Kathy Kosco, spokesman for the state DEP, said it appears, upon initial review, that a break in the hose caused a spark that resulted in a fire destroying multiple pumper trucks at the site.
Twelve Brooke County and Western Pennsylvania fire departments were called at about 5 p.m. to extinguish the blaze, which occurred on property leased by Chesapeake Energy from Russell Hervey.
Franklin Community Fire Chief Larry Palmer said staff with FTS International, a subcontractor for Chesapeake, attempted to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher. When that failed, they quickly evacuated the area and called for help and no one was hurt, he said.
Palmer said a safety official with FTS directed the firefighters.
Kosco said a company hired by FTS International had begun cleanup efforts when an inspector with the state Division of Environmental Protection arrived at about 9 p.m. Monday.
Kosco said there didn't appear to be frack fluid spilled at the site, and a soil sample was taken to be tested for pollutants, including diesel, oil and hydraulic fluid, in the ground. Frack fluid is the mix of water, sand and chemicals used by drilling companies, through a process known as hydraulic fracturing, to release natural gas from the dense Marcellus shale underground.
She said another soil sample will be taken after the cleanup is done and drilling operations will be halted until the investigation is completed.
Palmer noted in such operations, a large portion of the ground surrounding the well pad is covered with a tarp-like material intended to contain spills.
Kosco said it's very difficult to measure pollutants that may have been released into the air because the air flow would have shifted soon after the fire was extinguished.