Port Hudson, LA Natural Gas Well Blast, Jul 1979


Port Hudson, La. (UPI) - Bulldozers and powerful pumps arrived today at the site of a raging natural gas well fire where two explosions killed one man and injured three others.
The explosions and fire in the Amoco Production Co. well, located in a pastureland about 12 miles north o9f Baton Rouge, La., occurred Monday. Cause of the explosions has not been determined.
No communities were in danger from the fire and officials said no pollution would occur because gas escaping from the 15,230-foot well was being consumed in the flames.
Four huge bulldozers arrived at the site from Mississippi and two high-volume pumps with a combined capacity of 8,000 gallons of water per minute were sent from Houston.
Officials said the pumps would be used to spray water onto the burning well to cool the area while workmen clean it of a toppled derrick. Once the debris has been cleared, wild well specialists can be sent in to cap the well.
"We are presently seeking the quickest yet the safest method to control the well. That method will be determined in the next couple of days," said an Amoco spokesman at the scene.
Heat from the roaring fire has been so intense workmen have been unable to recover the body of the dead worker from atop the well platform.
Officials said GENE QUELLE was killed while standing on the rig platform when the first explosion occurred. His body could not be reached because of the raging fire.
"When the first fire came he was considerably burned," said Dr. Hypolite Landry, coroner for East Baton Rouge Parish. "Someone saw his body up there. He's dead for sure, but right now I doubt it there's anything left of him."
Two other workers - ED LeBLANC, 29, of Port Barre, La., and MIKE JEFFERS, 19, of Opelousas, La. - were listed in critical condition today with burns over much of their bodies at Baton Rouge General Hospital.
Another man, GAYLE LEWIS, 38, of Gretna, La., was listed in satisfactory condition at Ochsner Foundation Hospital in New Orleans with burns.
Dave Tayrien, a spokesman for Amoco Production Co. that owns the natural gas rig, said well firefighter Boots Hansen was on the scene to begin attempts at extinguishing the blaze, but that it could take several days.

Logansport Pharos Tribune Indiana 1979-07-10