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Oil rig fire forces evacuation near Roosevelt

Published January 22, 2013 12:47 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An early Tuesday morning oil rig fire forced evacuation in and around a drilling site just north of the eastern Utah town of Roosevelt. No injuries were reported.

The Duchesne County Sheriff's Office said the blaze was reported about 12:10 a.m. The rig is owned by Frontier Drilling and located near 2000 North and North Crescent Road, about 1.5 miles north of Roosevelt. The site is operated by Oklahoma City-based Devon Energy.

The precautionary evacuation area extended for a half-mile radius of the rig. The evacuation — which reportedly included five homes — was still in place as of late Tuesday, though the fire itself had reportedly been contained. The Sheriff's Office said Tuesday night that no other people besides those evacuated early Tuesday had to leave their homes.

Devon Energy spokesman Chip Minty said company well-fire capping experts arrived Tuesday afternoon to inspect the site and determine a strategy for "regaining control of the well and extinguish the fire."

Evacuated residents were being housed in a local motel at Devon Energy's expense until the evacuation can be lifted. The company also was covering short-term financial needs of the evacuees, Minty said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation. Concerns over the release of hydrogen sulfide gas prompted the evacuation, the Sheriff's Office said.

Minty said crews had recently completed drilling a vertical well shaft at the site. "There was a release of oil and gas and the well caught fire overnight. Thankfully no one was injured and all crew members were safely evacuated," he said.

Devon Energy did not have a firm estimate for when the evacuation could be lifted or when the fire would be snuffed.

remims@sltrib.com