Tankers caught fire at natural gas well site

Friday, April 15, 2011 - 6:06pm

Huge plumes of smoke poured out of a west Shreveport natural gas well site Friday afternoon.  It took Caddo and Shreveport fire crews hours to put out the flames at the Chesapeake Energy site.

Fire trucks spent more than three hours shuttling water back-and-forth from hydrants to the Chesapeake well site.  Around 11:30 a.m., a Cudd Energy Service 18-wheeler at the site near Rice Rd. and Greenwood Rd. ignited shooting clouds of black smoke into the sky.

The fire started with one truck and quickly spread to eight adjacent trucks, said Paul Pratt of Chesapeake Energy Corporation.  According to Scott Wolverton of the Shreveport Fire Department, mainly diesel fuel in the 18-wheelers' tanks and hydraulic fluid fueled the fire.

Authorities say each tanker truck that carried fracturing fluid had 50 to 100 gallons of diesel fuel in their tanks.  Chesapeake officials told us the fire was extinguished around 2:45 p.m. Friday afternoon, and no environmental damage was expected.  "There's no spills, no threats to the environment or threats to the neighborhood," said Pratt.

Authorities blocked off about a mile stretch of Rice Rd. while the fire burned, which prevented some residents from getting to their homes and property near the well site.  Allen Jones, who owns property adjacent to the site, told us he came to do a routine check on the property, but could not drive down there because of the blocked streets.  Larry Smith, who lives on Rice Rd. ran in to the same problem.

Some residents expressed concerns about the danger of living so close to the new well site.  "They say it's safe to have you staying here, but they ain't really got the well down and it's happening already," said Jones.

All Chesapeake and Cudd Energy employees were accounted for and no injuries were reported.  Chesapeake Energy officials say they are still investigating how the fire initially started.

Chesapeake officials said the current completion stage of the LEED 21H1 well at this site will now be delayed as a result of the fire.

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