SOMERSET TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — Investigators are looking into how a 4-alarm fire at a gas well in Washington County started.
A long black cloud of smoke could be seen for miles around. The source was a fire at a natural gas drilling operation not far from a rural neighborhood.
KDKA viewer Randy Metz shot home video of a huge black plume of smoke rising over the Papa Bear well pad.
“And I heard this boom. The house shook,” neighbor Linda Padovich said. “I jumped out of bed, looked out the window. [There was] black smoke, you couldn’t even see out.”
Linda and Jim Padovich were at home, less than 200 yards away, when they heard a loud blast.
“And it shook the house. And I came over and looked, and I saw the fire and the black smoke,” Jim said. “There was a lot of flames up there. It was really burning.”
The Padoviches received a number of calls from neighbors urging them to evacuate.
Dozens of firefighters from all over Washington County responded to the fire. Investigators say the initial 911 call stated that the fire started in a pumper truck used in the fracking process for drilling natural gas.
It’s believed the fire damaged up to four pumper trucks.
“It was basically contained to just the pumper trucks themselves, so it had nothing to do with the wells,” state fire marshall Tim Solobay said.
Officials suspect the fire may have started in a broken hydraulic line on one of those trucks.
About 20 workers evacuated safely. No one was hurt.
The State Department of Environmental Protection is investigating.
Meanwhile, Linda Padovich says they’ve dealt with noise from trucks, heat from burn-offs, and now this.
“We bought this house because of the country, you know?” she said. “Now you took it from us.”
It appears that a major evacuation was not necessary. Neighbors are praising emergency responders for arriving on the scene quickly.
The official cause of the fire is still under investigation.