Flash flame burst at gas well in Nine Mile injures two employees
A Carbon County resident was burned over 100 percent of his body during a flash or flame ignition at a natural gas well site in Nine Mile Canyon on Aug. 2.
According to Bill Barrett Corporation officials, the flash, which burned three additional individuals, was ignited by one of the workers smoking too close to the well during the "flowback" process.
On Aug. 2 at 5:50 a.m. a call was received by Price communications dispatch informing local officials that there had been an explosion near Peter's Point, according to Carbon County Sheriff's Capt. Guy Adams.
Peter's Point is located up Nile Mile Canyon in eastern Carbon County.
The explosion seriously injured two employee of Integrated Productions Services.
Adams further reports that while the sheriff's office is investigating the cause of the explosion, no formal conclusion has been made concerning the ignition of the flash flame.
The reported incident occurred at a remote natural gas well and initial reports indicated that one subject had been burned over 100 percent of his body while the condition of the second victim was unknown.
According to the county sheriff's office, the employees from Intergrated Production Services out of Riverton, Wyo., were working at the site when the incident occurred.
The workers were reportedly extracting ground water and natural gas from the locations well and into the flowback tanks.
The flowback operation separates ground water into evaporation ponds while pulling the gas out to be released into the air.
The sheriff's office reported that Cory Curran from Bill Barrett Corporation was apparently draining off excess carbon dioxide from a trailer, causing a layer of carbon dioxide to form around the immediate area where Aaron Olmstead of Wellington and Richard Wright of Rock Springs, Wyo. were working.
Both of the burn victims work for Barrett subcontractor Integrated Production Systems and were overseeing the flowback process at the well.
The natural gas was allowed to concentrate with the carbon dioxide in the air and settle along the ground because of calm weather conditions.
According to Jim Felton, communications manager at Bill Barrett Corporation, the investigation by the United States Occupational and Safety Administration will determine the source of the concentration of natural gas and carbon dioxide around the well.
When the mixture ignited, the flame reportedly enveloped 26 year-old Olmstead. Adams reported that when Olmstead came in contact with the brush surrounding the well it flamed up and on-site water was used to douse the flame immediately before it could start a wildfire.
"Due to the remote location of the incident, the responding Carbon County deputy requested Life Flight be dispatched to the scene," said Capt. Adams. "And subsequently two Life Flight helicopters from the University of Utah Medical Center responded."
Olmstead was critically burned, while Wright was seriously burned, both were Life Flighted from Nine Mile to the U of U Medical Center. Two other workers at the site were transported to Castleview Hospital in Price with minor burns.Cory Curran was not injured in the accident.
The rugged canyon called Nine Mile begins 20 miles north of Wellington and stretches 40 miles along the northern side of the Book Cliff Mountain Range.
The booming energy area is undergoing constant access improvements funded by county resources and private investments.
According to Adams, the official cause of the incident is still under continuing investigation.