A fire at a natural gas well in Arnaudville died out naturally on Thursday evening, but officials say the danger remains and the blaze could reignite at any time without warning.
Troop Derek Senegal, a spokesman for Louisiana State Police D Troop, said the fire was extinguished after debris and dirt crumbled into the area where the gas spurted. escaped from a pipeline.
“Often in a situation like this it collapses in on itself and practically prevents product from escaping from that area,” Senegal said. “But on the other hand, that doesn’t mean all is well. This gas and the pressure is always looking for a place to get out, so at any moment or any moment it can flare up again without warning.”
The fire broke out around 11 a.m. Wednesday in a well near Joe Kidder and Lee Roy Bourque roads. A voluntary evacuation order remains in place for those living within a half-mile radius of the area.
The well is owned by The Termo Company, an oil and gas company based in the parish of Saint-Martin, and Precision Drilling was working on the well at the time of the fire, Senegal said.
Heavy machinery arrived Thursday and Friday as pipeline repair work began.
“They can’t predict when it will be resolved, and they can’t say when it exploded,” Senegal said. “Natural gas was coming out, so somehow during that time the gases ignited and caused the fire. Things are still unknown, and they have to be very careful now because of how it’s right now. It’s just one of those things that we’re going to have to be super careful and treat this thing like it’s still on fire.”
No injuries were reported on Friday afternoon.
There are about 10 households in the voluntary evacuation area. Only two households had been evacuated by Friday afternoon, Senegal said.
Air quality monitoring is underway near the pit fire and at various points within a 1 square mile radius of the pit, he said.
The Louisiana State Police Emergency Services Unit, the Lafayette Fire Department HAZMAT Division and the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality remained at the scene Friday afternoon . The police are investigating.