An Oklahoma gas well was the site of a deadly explosion on Monday that killed five oil rig workers. The men had been the subject of a widespread search, but at a press conference held on Tuesday, Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris reported that “All five of the missing workers have been located.” At this time authorities have not determined the cause of the disaster.
The oil field explosion began early on Monday when the blast was heard. It ignited a fire that consumed the oil field, which is located approximately 2 hours south of the city of Tulsa. Morris said, “From what I was told from many of the survivors, there was an explosion. They heard a loud boom, they saw the fire, and they ran. Everyone was trying to survive … There was one guy that was very high on the rig. They grabbed a hold of a guideline and slid down the guideline, which would have been scary in itself, but he survived.” Seventeen other workers who were on the site survived with either minor injuries or unscathed, but the five men who were killed were too close to escape.
Recovery Work and Investigation Begins In Oklahoma Oil Field Explosion
The five men who were killed ranged in age from 26 years old to 60. Four were residents of Oklahoma and one man hailed from Ft. Worth, Texas. According to Morris, the victims were particularly vulnerable because of their proximity to the initial fire scene. “The bodies were located in the area that they were presumed to be working in – what they call the ‘dog house’. It was so hot in that area … that would have been where the fire initially started. Once it cooled off and that area was stabilized by the oil field company, the medical examiner was on the scene. They got in there and found them.”
The investigation into the cause of the explosion is being run by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The owner of the well is Red Mountain Operating, while the well itself was drilled by Patterson-UTI Energy, which issued a statement saying that it was “deeply saddened” by the incident and the loss of lives.