Gas well fire seriously burns EnCana worker
A gas well fire early Sunday afternoon south of Rifle sent one EnCana employee to a burn center in Greeley, and the cause of the blaze is still under investigation.Ron Thurston was working alone checking wells in the Rulison field three to four miles southwest of Rifle when the fire occurred.”He was on location alone, which we normally don’t condone,” said Walter Lowry, director of public relations for EnCana USA. “Generally, we require more than one person to be on location.”The fire exploded about 1 p.m. Thurston was seriously burned and airlifted to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction before being transported to a burn center in Greeley. The Rifle Fire Protection District arrived on the scene abound 1:15 p.m. with two water tenders, along with the Grand Valley Fire Protection District, according to Kevin Whelan, training coordinator for the Rifle district.Firefighters made sure the fire was contained and in no danger of spreading to other combustible materials in the area.”Basically, the fire went out when the fuel burned off,” Whelan said. “We did not put out this fire, but isolated the fuel and let it burn. But at no time was there any danger to the public.”The incident was immediately reported to officials at the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in Denver.”EnCana notified us very quickly – within the hour,” said Brian Macke, director of the COGCC. “We’re investigating to see if any oil and gas rules were violated, but (the results) could take at least a couple of weeks, depending on what the facts are.”Thurston’s condition was unknown as of Tuesday evening.
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