Gas drilling = industrialization & industrial-size problems: Explosive fire destroys $8 million in equipment, keeps first responders from 8 stations busy for 4 hours in the middle of the night

… and what if the well had ignited?

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports:

Trucks and other equipment worth about $8 million were destroyed late Tuesday in an explosive fire at a natural gas drilling site northwest of Joshua, officials said.

The fire started in one of the eight Kenworth trucks parked at the site operated by Chesapeake Energy in the 3200 block of County Road 913, said Gerald Mohr, emergency management coordinator for Johnson County.

Mohr said no one was hurt, but the flames were intense.

“It was a pretty good fire that generated a good bit of heat,” he said. “We had quite a few tankers hauling water.”

No natural gas contributed to the fire, which was reported at about 11:15 p.m., said Lt. Tim Jones, Johnson County Sheriff’s spokesman.

“It was all equipment and no gas,” he said. “There wasn’t a blowout or anything like that.”

Flames, however, spread to the other trucks, which were parked very close to each other, Mohr said.

The vehicles were destroyed along with pumps, blenders and other equipment used in the process of hydraulic fracturing of a gas well.

Members from several Johnson County fire departments battled flames for about four hours at the drilling site. The area is about a half-mile west of the intersection of Farm Road 1902 and CR 913, which is also called Caddo School Road.

Firefighters came from Joshua, Briar Oaks, Mid North, Godley, Bono, Burleson, Cleburne and Tarrant County, Jones said.

A lot of them were needed to haul water and operate long-distance nozzles and aerial ladder trucks, Mohr said.

He said that the blaze had to be fought at a distance to protect the firefighters, but not because it was a natural gas drilling site.

“There were trucks in there with diesel tanks on them,” he said. “All those trucks have two or three fuel tanks on them. “We had a couple explosions.”

The fire’s cause was being investigated Wednesday, said Jerri Robbins, Chesapeake spokeswoman.

“A contractor was finishing hydraulic fracturing operations when one of the blender trucks caught on fire,” she said.

She added that “it is likely that tires on the trucks made a sound like an explosion as they were burning, not the diesel tanks.”

The equipment was operated by Denton-based Liberty Pressure Pumping which. Jones said, reported that the estimated cost of the equipment lost was $8,310,000.

Officials for that company could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

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