Breaking News Blog

Wednesday, Apr 18 2012 06:00 PM

Natural gas leak causes evacuation of nearby homes

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    California Highway Patrol blocks the intersection of Malaga Road and Hermosa Road south of Bakersfield after a drilling rig hit a natural gas pocket in a field southeast of the intersection. No injuries were reported.

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    Kern County Fire Capt. Derek Tisinger answers questions from the media regarding an incident where a drilling rig hit a natural gas pocket in a field south of Malaga Road and west of south Comanche Drive. At left are vehicles from the Kern County Environmental Health Hazardous Materials Response Team.

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    By Felix Adamo/ The Californian

    This drilling rig, south of Malaga Road and west of south Comanche Drive, hit a natural gas pocket while drilling, forcing the closure of roads in the area.

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By THE BAKERSFIELD CALIFORNIAN

A natural gas blowout caused by a drilling crew early Wednesday resulted in the evacuation of nearby homes in Lamont. As of 5:30 p.m., Vaquero Energy crews were still working to fully contain the blowout by filling it with a mixture of mud and concrete, Kern County Fire Capt. Derek Tisinger said.

The incident occurred about 2 a.m. when Vaquero workers drilling a well in the Edison Oilfield hit an unexpected pocket of natural gas, Tisinger said. There were no explosions or injuries, but five nearby homes were evacuated as a precaution..

"When it first happened, it sounded almost like a jet engine," Tisinger said. "It was really loud."

The well is in the middle of a large farm field and as of 11 a.m., only a slight hissing noise could be heard from across the field. At that time, Vaquero crews were in the process of bringing trucks with the mud and concrete mixture to the area.

The accident happened in an area bounded by Hermosa Road, South Comanche Drive, East Panama Lane and Malaga Road. Roads in the immediate vicinity were closed to traffic.

Vaquero workers placed a blowout preventer on the well to limit gas flow at about 8 a.m., according to a news release from the company. Tisinger said that reduced the flow of gas by about 95 percent.

In addition to Kern County firefighters, the California Highway Patrol and State Division of Oil and Gas were notified.

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