Witnesses Describe Logan County Gas Explosion

Friday, April 5th 2013, 8:07 pm

By: News 9

We're learning more about an explosion at a large natural gas compressor in Logan County, Thursday night.

Wellston, Okla. residents have seen big grassfires before, but not anything like the blaze at the DCP Midstream compressor plant around 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

"Whenever this happened last night, it kind of sounded like a sonic boom," says William Savory, who has lived in Wellston for 20 years.

"Last night, me and my wife felt a shake, and I saw it on Ch. 9 when they had the helicopter flying over they showed the flames." Savory says.

No one was injured, but three homes had to be evacuated. Savory says a DCP Midstream representative said they would pay for his hotel if he wanted to evacuate, but his family decided to stay.

"We've never had any problems at the compressor station before," Savory says. "And I told my wife, all it's just going to do is burn off, it's going to burn off because it's so wet."

Lisa Newkirk of DCP Midstream the company doesn't know what started the explosion in rural Logan County, but they were able to isolate the line to allow the flames to subside safely. Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow says the station was working on "bleeding down the gas line," which is a process they have to do to relieve excess pressure.

4/4/2013 Related Story: Homes Evacuated After Gas Explosion In Eastern Logan County

"Once or twice a year, we'll have a gas line somewhere in Oklahoma fail, and they all do pretty much the same thing," Harlow says. "The ground will kind of crater underneath the line, and they'll have a pretty massive fire ball for some time until the gas shut off, and it's been allowed to burn."

The Guthrie Fire Department, along with Meridian and Coyle fire departments, all responded to the explosion and Harlow believes the weather may have been a factor in the fire.

"It was a tremendous fire ball in the sky and was able to be seen for quite a few miles," Harlow says. "We didn't have much wind last night, which would allow the gas to kind of stay in place, instead of dissipating, at that point any spark, whether it be static electricity or even the spark of vehicle ignition could likely set it off."

Savory says he knows the one employee who escaped the blaze and left his company pickup truck. He says he sees a worker named Tim when he goes jogging at night near the plant, but this time, he says he was really nervous.

"I asked him, I said, what happened? And he said, ‘Oh it's a long story.' And I told him, I said, ‘Well the Lord sure was looking over your shoulder,'" Savory says. "Because he didn't have a scratch on him, but he was pretty shook up."

Savory says he doesn't know where the employee ran to get help, but he came by his house in a truck with his boss. Harlow says the worker wasn't able to tell him much information either.

"He was there performing some maintenance on the compressor station," Harlow says. "And for some unknown reason the area exploded."

DCP Midstream is investigating what caused the explosion along with the Department of the Environmental Quality and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission.


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