Evacuation order lifted in Wyoming town hit by gas plant fire

A spokesman for Willaims Cos. says a fire at the natural gas plant in Opal, Wyo., will have to burn itself out.
By Frances Burns   |   April 24, 2014 at 4:12 PM   |   Comments

OPAL, Wyo., April 24 (UPI) -- Residents of tiny Opal, Wyo., were allowed to return home Thursday as a fire continued to burn at a nearby natural gas plant.

A spokesman for Williams Cos., which owns the plant, told the Los Angeles Times that firefighters were unable to reach the plant. But George Angerbauer said testing had determined methane levels in Opal are safe.

Angerbauer said the company was trying to isolate the unit that exploded Wednesday to deny fuel to the fire: “What you really got to do is let it burn.”

Opal, with an area of only 88 acres, is in Lincoln County on Wyoming's western border. The 2010 Census found only 96 residents in 38 households.

Mayor Mary Hall said about 50 people were in hotels Wednesday night. Hall said the Williams company has been helpful and that an emergency siren it bought for Opal three years ago was helpful in alerting residents after the explosion.

"Williams is great neighbor," Hall said. "They go through training every single year for this kind of event and the town’s been very progressive about being prepared."

The plant processes natural gas from fields in Wyoming and Utah and its shutdown threatens to reduce supplies in western states.

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