Tennessee authorities report that a rig crew on Cove Mountain hit "a large zone of pressurized natural gas" while drilling at 3,900 feet. A BOP was installed to shut off the well, but a passing Ford Tempo reportedly sparked a "horrendous" explosion to start the blaze, according to the well operator.
The well, operated by Walden Resources, has spewed thousands of gallons of oil since the well went "out of control," Walden owner Dan Potts told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Potts said the explosion that resulted in the sixty-foot flames was caused by a passing motorist who ignored warnings about driving past the rig while it was unstable.
The one person injured in the blast and blaze is reportedly the driver of the Ford Tempo.
"His vehicle was running rough and apparently sparked the explosion," Potts told the News-Sentinel.
Cove Mountain lies in a rural area in Anderson County, so only five or six homes were evacuated while firefighters and personnel from local oil companies attempted to contain the blaze, local reports indicated.
"Right now we are letting it burn until a company out of Texas get here to assess the situation and put the fire out," Scott Stout of Roane County Emergency Management Office told the Associated Press. He added that workers from Wild Well Control were expected to arrive from Houston Wednesday afternoon.
Potts told reporters the effort to contain the blaze and regain control of the well will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
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