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BELOIT Fire will keep gas well site out of operation for a week



Published: Tue, April 9, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The company is losing about $1,500 for every day the facility is out of operation, a spokesman said.

By MARALINE KUBIK

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BELOIT -- It will be at least a week before a natural gas collection facility damaged by fire is up and running again.

One hundred firefighters from five departments spent 2 1/2 hours extinguishing a gas well fire after a storage tank exploded in a farm field on Main Street.

"We're lucky no one was hurt and no farm animals were injured," said Scott Dean, Beloit fire chief. "We're lucky the cows were in the barn."

His department received a call at 6:47 p.m. Sunday reporting an explosion and fire at 14014 S. Main St., property owned by the mayor.

Collection facility: Gas from several wells is stored at a collection facility on the site. One of five storage tanks at the site exploded, causing the others to rupture, Dean said. "We don't know why the first tank exploded, we have to investigate some more."

The explosion could be heard at least 18 miles away and blew one storage tank 200 yards, he said. "When they go up, they're like torpedoes."

To help his department extinguish the blaze, the fire chief called in firefighters from Damascus, Sebring, North Georgetown and Homeworth.

The fire destroyed the tanks and damaged the system that pipes gas to the facility, causing an estimated $60,000 worth of damage.

Repair time: It will take a week to 10 days to repair the collection facility, said Gregory New, vice president of Dallas-based Dorfman Production Co., which owns the collection tanks, pipes and gas wells that feed them.

Seven wells feed into that facility, one of the largest Dorfman operates in Mahoning County, New said. He estimates that his company loses $1,500 for every day the collection facility is down.

The company operates 250 gas wells in Mahoning County. New estimates that between 125 and 150 gas wells owned by various companies operate in Smith Township. Most collection facilities in the area, he added, are fed by only one or two wells and contain two or three storage tanks. Most are located in farm fields.

Well fires: The Beloit Fire Department responds to five or six gas well fires a year, Dean said.

The most common cause of the fires, New said, are lightning strikes that ignite fumes around the tanks. "The fire department understands our situation. They know exactly what to do and have done a great job."

Because fires are a threat, all gas wells have systems to contain the fuel in such an event. Firefighters were able to contain all of the fuel at the Beloit collection facility, Dean added, "so there were no EPA concerns."

Smoke from the fire also posed no threat.

kubik@vindy.com




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