Five workers killed when gas well in Oklahoma explodes. Another worker flown by life flight to hospital. Initial reports of a blowout at the well followed by an uncontrolled release of gas.
A massive fireball and thick black smoke erupted from a gas well in Pittsburg County in eastern Oklahoma on Monday. ABC News reports that the drilling rig accident southeast of Tulsa killed five workers and sent one by life flight to a hospital. Sixteen other workers escaped without major injuries. The rig derrick was left in a crumpled, charred heap. The tragedy is an indelible reminder of the kind of accident that can easily happen around Texas and Houston.
“Uncontrolled release of gas”
It took most of the day on Monday to extinguish the fire. Only then were officials able to get to the site and search for missing workers. The five men were found in or near an office near the drilling floor called “the doghouse”.
The initial assessment of the cause was put forward by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission which regulates the oil and gas industry. Reports say when a gas release occurred and caught fire, a worker tried unsuccessfully to shut the well down.
OCC representative Matt Skinner stressed that this is merely a preliminary report of the cause and that the investigation is just getting underway.
“The investigation is ongoing, and there will undoubtedly be more added to the report,” Skinner said.
The tragic cost in lives
Three of the workers killed were from Oklahoma, one from Texas and one from Colorado. The grim task of notifying families fell to Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris.
“I think you can imagine, they’re not doing well,” Morris said. “No law enforcement officer likes to do that. The family not knowing and feeling empty about where their loved ones are, it’s a tough situation.”
Statistics from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health show that there were 101 fatalities in the oil and gas industry in 2014, the most recent year stats are available. Texas, Oklahoma and North Dakota lead in the nation in oil industry worker deaths.
Destroyed rig a hellish sight
This aerial survey of the still burning rig shows the astonishing power of the explosion, with the massive derrick twisted and collapsed.
Complicated cases require experience and expertise
The ABC article points out that injuries and death at well sites happen mostly to employees of servicing companies, with drilling company employees next. Workers at oil and gas well sites are frequently employed by different companies which are hired because of their specialty performing certain tasks.
The attorneys at The Callahan Law Firm have the experience, skill and resources required to investigate well site accidents, determine the cause or causes of the incident, and pursue justice on behalf of injured workers and their families. If you or a loved one were injured or have tragically lost a loved one as a result of a oil well site accident or gas well site accident, we can help. Our firm works on a contingency fee basis and advances the costs of litigation including the cost of qualified experts to help investigate and determine the cause of the incident. Because we work on a contingency fee basis, this means that our firm is paid for its legal services and reimbursed case expenses only if you make a recovery, whether by settlement or verdict.
Contact The Callahan Law Firm if you need help in relation to an injury or fatality in any type of accident involving oil or natural gas exploration whether in regions including the Eagleford Shale, the Permian Basin, the Barnett Shale, the Bakken Shale or at any other location where there is exploration or production of fossil fuels.