(08/18/2012)
Three workers are being treated for injuries after a flash fire early Friday morning at a Marcellus shale gas drilling site in Harrison County.

State Department of Environmental Protection spokesman Tom Aluise says Hall Drilling of Ritchie County was in the early stages of drilling the first well on the pad owned by Denver-based Antero Resources when the fire occurred at about 4:16 a.m.

Two Hall Drilling workers were flown by helicopter to the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh. Their conditions are unknown.

A third worker was taken by ambulance to a Harrison County hospital.

Hall Drilling has not released the names of the injured men.

Aluise of the WV DEP Office of Oil and Gas released this statement Friday afternoon:

"We will issue an order today telling Antero that all well work, other than procedures needed to make sure the site remains stable, must cease on the site. We have not issued any violations yet."

Aluise says it happened as the drill was being removed from the well near the community of Sycamore.

"Preliminary indications are that they hit a pocket of methane gas. An unknown source ignited the gas. There was a flash fire that burned for approximately an hour before it was extinguished," Aluise said.

The drilling rig was heavily damaged in the fire and may have to be replaced.


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