It is the worst fear of anyone who works on a natural gas well.
A spark or an error on the job results in a potentially deadly well fire that burns out of control, causing even more danger to the experts who have to be flown in to contain the blaze.
That’s the situation in Dunkard, Greene County, after something caused a Marcellus Shale gas well owned by Chevron to catch fire just before 7 a.m. Tuesday, leaving one employee with a minor injury and another worker missing and feared dead.
More than 12 hours after an explosion that “sounded like a jet engine going five feet above your house,” as one neighbor put it, the fire, fueled by the well’s gas, continued to shoot flames and smoke into the air, causing a hissing sound that could be heard a quarter-mile away.
The heat from the blaze — which caused a tanker truck on site that was full of propane gas to explode — was so intense that first responders from local fire departments had to pull back rather than risk injury.