5 missing in Oklahoma drilling rig fire

Cheryl Sanders
January 23, 2018

Five Oklahoma drilling rig workers were missing after an explosion caused a serious fire that burned for hours, according to authorities in the central U.S. state.

Enloe said the explosion also started grass fires that are being contained, but said the rig was almost engulfed in flames.

"Most everybody was taken off the site and taken to a secure site here in Quinton", said Morris, the sheriff.

Pittsburg County Emergency Management officials said a crew of eight from Boots & Coots Well Services arrived at the McAlester airport early Monday afternoon and then headed to the scene of the well fire southwest of Quinton.

They did not attempt to put out the fire directly to avoid spreading hazardous materials, Enloe said. Morris said it remains under investigation.

The incident occurred about three miles from another explosion that happened a year ago on a site owned by Trinity Operating LLC, located just west of Quinton. "It's a pretty traumatic thing to go through".

Confirmation of any fatalities won't be possible until the fire is extinguished and investigators can get to the scene of the explosion, said Amy Elliott, a spokeswoman for the Oklahoma medical examiner's office.

The drilling site was being operated by Oklahoma City-based Red Mountain Operating, said Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates oil and gas operators in the state. It is unclear if crews were drilling for oil or natural gas.

Emergency officials were relying on private sector experts to determine how to extinguish the fire, which is expected to continue burning through the night and into today. We've activated our emergency response systems and are fully cooperating with first responders and authorities on the scene. The company said it was responding to the incident.

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