North Dakota Oil Company Fire Investigated

By JOSH WOOD | July 24, 2014

Federal and state investigators were at a Williston, N.D., oil supply and logistics company on Wednesday, a day after a massive fire disrupted road and air traffic.

Williams County Emergency Services spokeswoman Lorrie Wilson said officials with the state fire marshal’s office and the federal Environmental Protection Agency were at Red River Supply, where the blaze began about midnight Monday.

Officials still have not said what caused the blaze, which is mostly extinguished.

“The fire is out, but you’ve got some smoldering embers that might pop up here and there,” fire department shift captain Steven Kerzmann said. He added that most firefighters had left the area by late Tuesday.

Nobody was hurt, but officials had urged people who lived within a half-mile area of the site to leave. Some roads in the area, including State Highway 1804, were closed.

“Some people did leave on their own – they had friends or family outside that area,” Wilson said. “But most people just sheltered in place.”

Authorities were mostly worried about the plume of smoke created by the fire. The North Dakota Department of Health and a number of other agencies were monitoring the air quality near the site on Tuesday; no reports have been released yet.

State records show several flammable chemicals were on Red River Supply’s property. The company’s website says it provides storage, blending and delivery of drilling fluids, among other things.

Officials couldn’t identify which specific chemicals had burned at the site, Williston Fire Chief Jason Catrambone said Tuesday afternoon.

The smoke also prompted the Federal Aviation Administration to issue a six-hour temporary flight restriction Tuesday for Williston’s Sloulin Field International Airport, airport manager Steven Kjergaard said.

Red River Supply issued a brief statement late Tuesday thanking emergency responders and saying the cause of the fire hadn’t been determined.

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