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Two men taken to hospital after oil rig blast

By BY ALLISON MILES - AMILES@VICAD.COM
Sept. 23, 2011 at 4:23 a.m.


An oil rig operator burned in a Thursday blast in Karnes County was released from the hospital that same day, an official said Friday.

Information about a second operator, who was airlifted to San Antonio with burns, was unavailable.

"He was coherent," Karnes County Sheriff David Jalufka said of the man when he left the rig site. "He was in a lot of pain, but you could talk to him."

Both men were from the Giddings area and sustained non life-threatening burns to their forearms and torsos, Jalufka said. He did not have their names.

The 911 call went out about 11:35 a.m. Thursday that an oil rig was on fire two miles east of Falls City, he said.

Crews were doing maintenance on an old well, pumping oil into the ground to get it back into play.

As crews heated about 50 barrels of oil, something happened to the valve, Jalufka said. The oil blew back onto the hot oiler truck, which has a flame, he said, setting the truck and the oil going into the well ablaze. The fire spread to a workover rig, as well.

The oil well is managed by Houston-based Amerril Energy Inc., according to the Associated Press. It is not part of the Eagle Ford Shale play.

First responders evacuated the six to eight homes within a mile of the site, as per Texas Commission on Environmental Quality requirements. Residents were allowed to return about 5 p.m.

Such incidents are bound to happen with so much oil activity in the region, Jalufka said, but emergency responders handled the situation well. Although the incident took place in a dry mesquite field, he noted, the blaze did not spread.

"This is not the first and it won't be the last," he said. "We've kind of got our A game on."

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