Gas Rig Blows

At first emergency workers gathered in site of the gas rig, about a fourth a mile down Patterson Road. Emergency coordinator Robert Hurst said, "The report right now is we have a gas well that was in drilling that went through a cap of rock, back pressure was not handled the rams and now we have a spewing gas well."

Within an hour of the 2:00 emergency the Railroad Commission arrived and the command post was moved farther away.

About 30 residents were evacuated. Some heard the blast, but didn't know exactly what it was including Charlie Crownover. "I thought it was thunder or maybe a train running and that was it and then I got a call of what it was."

The mission at hand was to set up contingency plans should the situation worsen. "During the wait emergency workers watched the well site, but also the weather. Particularly banks of clouds that could be carrying lightening.

"Once that mud goes away that wetting then we suddenly deal with the potential of sparking, static electricity, " cautioned Hurst.

The biggest challenge is to get close enough to the sight safely to cap it off. Damaged rigging gear, high pressure and nightfall could present problems.

Company representatives arrived on the scene to oversee the capping. Langston Drilling Company and Vertex Petroleum are working on the project.

Nacogdoches County has hundreds of gas drilling exploration projects on the drawing board.