Five oil field workers are missing after an explosion and fire Monday at a natural gas drilling site in southeastern Oklahoma.
Joe Wertz of StateImpact Oklahoma reports for NPR’s Newscast unit:
“The explosion buckled the drilling rig operating near a small town 100 miles south of Tulsa and fueled a smoke plume that was visible for miles.
In a statement, the company operating the drilling rig said it wasn’t sure what caused the explosion and fire.
One burned worker was taken to a hospital by helicopter, 16 other workers made it off the rig safely.”
Workers were “pretty shook up,” Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris told journalists at a news conference. “It’s a pretty dramatic deal to go through.”
The county’s Emergency Manager Kevin Enloe said first responders searched the surrounding area for the missing workers, but haven’t been able to get within a hundred feet of the well fire.
A statement released Monday night by emergency management said the fire is out.
Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma medical examiner’s office tells The Associated Press:
“Confirmation of any fatalities wasn’t expected to be possible until the fire was extinguished and investigators could get to the scene of the explosion. I pray there’s not, but we just don’t know yet,” Elliott said.”
The drilling rig belonged to Houston-based Patterson-UTI Energy. Red Mountain Energy was operating the site.