Firefighters extinguish blaze at drilling rig near Starvation State Park

Published: Wednesday, March 13 2013 5:07 p.m. MDT

DUCHESNE — Firefighters quickly contained a fire Wednesday at a drilling rig near Starvation State Park.

Fire crews were called to a Nabors Drilling rig 15 miles west of Duchesne just before 5 a.m. after natural gas escaping from the wellbore ignited, according to Duchesne Assistant Fire Chief Keith Ayers.

"There were 30-foot flames lapping over the top of the drilling rig," Ayers said.

Firefighters were able to protect the rig's electrical system, which kept its pumps running, the assistant chief said. That allowed the rig's crew to pump weighted fluids down the well to prevent more natural gas from escaping.

"That was a key factor in stopping the fire," Ayers said, adding that firefighters had the blaze fully contained in about an hour.

Bill Barrett Corp. owns the well. Spokesman Jim Felton said the Denver-based company is cooperating with the state and local investigation into the fire. 

"Bill Barrett Corp. will also be reviewing the processes used to make sure everything is safe before drilling operations resume," Felton said.

Wednesday's fire comes almost two months after a drilling rig operated by Frontier Drilling caught fire two miles north of Roosevelt. That fire, which started Jan. 22 at a well site owned by Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy, forced the evacuation of several nearby homes. It took almost two weeks to bring that blaze under control.

E-mail: gliesik@deseretnews.com

Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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