SANTA CLARITA, Calif. (AP) - A Texas firefighting crew expects
to have an oil well fire that killed one person and injured another
controlled Tuesday.
The natural-gas-fed fire, which had sent flames shooting 200
feet into the air, was largely contained Monday.
"They'll get it under control and closed Tuesday," said
Raymond Henry, senior specialist for Houston-based Boots and Coots
International Well Control, which extinguished burning wells in
Kuwait during the Persian Gulf War. "It's already considerably
smaller."
The explosion Saturday morning in a rugged canyon about five
miles north of here in Castaic was felt for miles.
On Monday, authorities identified the blast victim as Joe
Currington, 43, of Bakersfield, a veteran oilfield worker who was
married and had three children.
His colleague, Delton Rosson, 35, also of Bakersfield, remains
at the Grossman Burn Center at Sherman Oaks Hospital in critical
but stable condition.
Both men worked for CAZA Drilling Inc., a drilling contractor in
Denver that has a fleet of 46 rigs. They were pulling a drill bit
out of a well when a plume of natural gas exploded, toppling a
100-foot-high derrick that melted in the blaze, authorities said.
Currington was standing on a 60-foot-high platform on the rig when
the accident occurred.
"The gases blew upward and there may have been a spark from the
drill bit that ignited the gas," said Susan Gard, a spokeswoman
for the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health.
Officials with Cal-OSHA, the state Division of Oil and Gas and
the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department were investigating.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

APTV 11-19-02 0429EST