Posted 3/09/11 (Wed)
By Tina Foreman
Farmer Staff Writer
Shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, a sky filled with billowing black smoke had Arnegard residents and area emergency personnel on alert.
The smoke was the result of a well site fire approximately eight miles north of Arnegard.
“Local law enforcement received a call around 2:30 a.m. on Monday,” says Jerry Samuelson, McKenzie County Emergency manager. “The caller reported that a leak at the well site had caused a large yellowish plume of gas to escape. The next call came at around 9:15 a.m. stating that the well was in flames.”
The well, owned by SM Energy, a Denver-based company, was in the process of being completed when the fire broke out.
“All of the drilling had been finished, so this was not a drilling incident but a completion incident,” says Brent Collins, SM Energy director of investor relations. “At this point we don’t know what caused the fire, but we are certainly glad to report that there have been no injuries or deaths as a result of the incident.”
Several hours after the fire was reported, the fire continued to burn and the Watford City Fire Department and the McKenzie County Ambulance Service remained at the scene as a precautionary measure.
“It’s never good to have a lot of smoke and a fire,” adds Collins. “But we have taken all of the precautionary and regulatory steps necessary, and we have made certain that there is no danger to the surrounding residents or community.”
Although it has been determined that the surrounding residents were in no danger, there was still a lot of excitement in the area when the incident first began.
“We received a call around 2:30 a.m. stating that a nearby well had blown up,” says Sara Ceynar, who lives less than a mile from the location. “We didn’t get evacuated and they said we were not in any danger, but there is nothing like a middle of the night phone call from the Sheriff’s Department to make your heart skip a beat.”
“In an effort to determine the cause of the fire and to get it extinguished, we have called in Boots & Coots, a company that specializes in well control,” says Collins. “Once they determine the best course of action, we will get the fire out and find out what happened.”