Fire at Mercer County gas well briefly forces evacuation in 1-mile radius – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A fire at a Mercer County Marcellus shale gas well early this morning forced the evacuation of about 15 to 20 homes in a one-mile radius of the well pad, but residents were allowed to return within a few hours.

No injuries were reported.

Authorities were notified of the fire at the well in the 200 block of Pulaski Road in Shenango Township around 5:43 a.m., a 911 dispatch supervisor said.

The blaze began when a piece of equipment called a separator caught fire, Hilcorp spokesman Justin Furnace said in a statement.

The separator, which separates oil, gas and water, is housed in a metal building at the edge of the well pad, the statement said.

Hilcorp is trying to figure out what caused the fire.

John Poister, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, said the agency was notified about 90 minutes after the fire broke out and sent an employee to the site.

The separator was destroyed, Mr. Poister said.

He added that the Shenango Radkowski well will remain out of operation until a new separator can be installed.

Numerous fire companies in the area responded along with emergency management personnel from Mercer and Lawrence counties. They opted to allow the fire to burn itself out, which it did by around 9:30 a.m.

Residents were permitted to return to their homes about 8:07 a.m.

Because fire companies did not use foam or any substances that could have leached into the soil or otherwise gotten into the ground, Mr. Poister said there was no waterway contamination. He also said the DEP took preliminary air readings and found nothing amiss.

via Fire at Mercer County gas well briefly forces evacuation in 1-mile radius – Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.