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Gas well fire in Greene County may burn until next week

Andrew Russell | Tribune-Review
The fire at the Chevron Corp. natural gas well still burned Friday morning. This photo from Wednesday in Dunkard Township in Greene County, shows some of the debris crews will have to move before trying to extinguish the blaze. The fire began Tuesday when an accident ignited the well, leaving one person injured and another missing and presumed dead.

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By Tom Fontaine

Published: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014, 9:21 a.m.

GREENE COUNTY — Chevron Corp. remained tight-lipped on Friday about efforts to extinguish a natural gas well fire in rural Greene County and the fate of a contractor who is believed to have died in an explosion at the drilling site.

But the state's top environmental agency said the fire is likely to burn until next week.

“Right now, it would appear that those efforts (to extinguish the fire and cap the well) won't begin until late Sunday or early Monday,” said Department of Environmental Protection spokesman John Poister.

It's not known how long it might take to put out the fire.

In a statement issued about 5 p.m. Friday, Chevron said water trucks, heavy lifting equipment and pumping systems were being shipped in to help combat a fire that began burning Tuesday morning in Dunkard. Specialists from Wild Well Control Inc. of Houston had one piece of charred equipment to remove to provide clear access to the well.

“This crane is maintaining extreme temperatures and is the ignition source that continues to reignite the natural gas flowing from the initial well … (and) the second well,” Chevron spokeswoman Lee Ann Wainright said in the statement.

The initial well, known as Lanco 7H, continued to burn steadily, and the adjacent 6H well burned intermittently.

Chevron did not respond to questions about its response or the missing contractor for Houston-based Cameron International Corp., an oilfield equipment supplier.

“As of right now, my office has not been contacted,” said Greene County Coroner Gregory P. Rohanna.

Cameron International spokeswoman Sharon Sloan added: “We haven't heard much from Chevron.”

Sloan declined to release information about the company's missing worker.

Chevron set up a public affairs command post at the Bobtown Polish Club to address complaints and questions from residents and organizations. It's nearly 2 miles from the drilling site.

From the Polish Club's front door, the whooshing roar of the fire — similar to the sound from a busy highway — was unmistakable. Flames and smoke weren't visible throughout the day as they were Thursday night, bartender Jenn Koolen, 40, of Bobtown said.

Sheila Kovalcheck, the club's bar manager, said the club canceled a member's retirement party scheduled for Friday and its annual Valentine's Day party on Saturday because of the command-center operations.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or




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