Update: Tennessee Oil Well Fire Doused, Residents Asked to Stay Away

March 27, 2008

A nearly week-old oil well fire in Anderson County, Tenn. was extinguished Tuesday, but officials worried about the danger of lingering natural gas vapors asked residents to stay away.

A spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency told Knoxville’s WVLT-TV that residents living near the wellhead in Oliver Springs, Tenn. were asked to voluntarily evacuate their homes until the gas fumes cleared.

Agency spokeswoman Sherryl Carbonaro said the fire that began March 19 was out by 11 a.m. Tuesday through a combination of spraying water on top and pumping water into the wellhead.

Workers digging around the well last week hit an intense pocket of natural gas. Their attempt to cap the well failed, causing a gusher of natural gas and oil that ignited the next day, possibly by a passing car. The driver was hospitalized with severe burns.

Information from WVLT-TV, Knoxville, http://www.volunteertv.com

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