Chesapeake Energy Well Fire in WV Does $8M in Damage

A fire at a Chesapeake Energy well site in Brooke County, WV on Monday destroyed five tractor-trailers and caused an estimated $8 million in damage. Fortunately, no one was injured. The details as we know them:

Investigators from FTS International are still working to confirm what caused a fire that destroyed five tractor-trailers at a well site in Brooke County, but officials at the Franklin Community Volunteer Fire Department say it may have been caused by a broken hydraulic line.

"In our initial interview, and investigation with FTS International, we found that witnesses on the scene thought they saw a hydraulic line fracture from one of their pumps, which in return hit a hot exhaust causing sparks and the piece of equipment to combust with the hydraulic tool," said Franklin Community Volunteer Fire Department Chief Larry Palmer.

The fire started around 5 p.m. Monday off Genteel Ridge Road. Local officials said the damage has been estimated at about $8 million.

Smoke could be seen billowing from the scene from miles away, as far as Steubenville and West Liberty.

"We saw the firetrucks go by, looked out on the road and saw black smoke," said James Burch. "We saw traffic stopped and we heard one explosion and it was like that whole area was full of smoke."

Officials said they aren’t completely sure what started it all, but the end result was a massive fire that consumed five tractor-trailers all equipped with hydraulic pumps. But more dangerous than the fire was where the trucks were parked.

"One wellhead was capped. The other one was the one they were fracking," said Palmer. "With that wellhead, there was a concern. We were briefed by the safety officer, a representative from Chesapeake, and guys were keeping that wellhead cool with water while the other ones were extinguishing the fire."

In total, it took a dozen crews more than three hours before they could clear the scene.

Chesapeake runs the fracking operation, but when asked for comment, NEWS9 was directed to FTS International.

FTS International’s Director of Corporate Communications Pamela Percival said in a statement, "FTS International (FTSI) equipment used for well completions was damaged in a fire at a West Virginia well site on April 8. No one was injured in the incident. Personnel working on the site followed proper procedures and evacuated the location. The fire began about 5 p.m. EDT at what is known as the Hervey well site, located in Brooke County, West Virginia. The incident is currently under investigation. We are grateful to Brooke County firefighters for their assistance in extinguishing the fire so quickly."

Investigators do not suspect foul play, and the fire department said its investigation is 99 percent complete, but FTS International’s investigation is still pending.*

    *Steubenville (OH) WTOV-9 News (Apr 9, 2013) – Fire that caused estimated $8 million in damage at Brooke Co. well site remains under investigation