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Natural gas drilling rig explodes in Oklahoma

Sept. 20, 2011 at 4:09 PM   |   Comments

WATONGA, Okla., Sept. 20 (UPI) -- An oil field firefighting team has taken over battling an oil rig fire near Watonga, Okla., that began with an explosion Monday night, officials said Tuesday.

The Oklahoman reported Kristin Miskovsky, a spokeswoman for Continental Resources Inc. of Enid, said the team, Wild Well Control, had responded to the fire Tuesday morning.

The fire was allowed to continue to burn, "the safest course of action," Miskovsky said.

Blaine County Sheriff Ricky Ainsworth said Tuesday a Continental representative told him all the rigging had to be removed from the wellhead before cement could be dumped in to plug the well

Miskovsky said the cause of the fire was under investigation.

An Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality team was also responding to the scene Tuesday.

No injuries were reported.

Most families forced to evacuate after a the rig exploded were allowed to return to their homes Tuesday, officials said.

Officials with Continental said nearly a dozen workers at the site evacuated just minutes before the explosion late Monday, KOCO-TV, Oklahoma City, reported.

Ainsworth said about 25 homes were evacuated.

"The flames were probably 100 feet tall," Matt Miller, who saw the flames, told KOCO-TV. "Periodically, there were explosions with huge flashes."

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