HOUSTON, Texas (FOX 26) - A frantic search is underway in Oklahoma after a drilling rig exploded, five employees are still unaccounted for.
Kevin Enloe the Director of Pittsburg County Emergency Management says, "we have the sixteen folks who have got off of, of the location. One we have flown out with, with some burns, and we have five still that are unaccounted for".
The explosion happened just before 9:00 am Monday at the natural gas well, sending black plumes of smoke into the sky and bringing nine different fire departments to the scene. Emergency crews say they let the fire burn itself out as they fought any flames that went beyond the perimeter. "There is some, some fire that is jumping off location because of the flame size. It's, it's getting some grass fire started. But, we've got enough units around that location that all we're doing is combating any fire that leaves the location", says Enloe.
Twenty-one employees were working on the site at the time of the blast. Crews have searched nearby woods for anyone that may have run from the scene but no one was found during the search. Patterson UTI has contacted the families of those employees who remain unaccounted for.
"It's gonna be a long process. I can't. I can't put a time frame on it, but, it's gonna be a very long process", says Enloe.
No word yet on what caused the explosion.
Patterson-UTI Energy President and CEO Andy Hendricks sent us a statement that says:
“All of us at Patterson-UTI are deeply saddened by the news of the incident in Pittsburg County, Oklahoma, this morning. Our hearts go out to the families of the five missing individuals, three of whom are Patterson-UTI employees. We’ve reached out to their families and are providing support during this difficult time.
“At this moment, no one knows with certainty what happened and it would be unwise to speculate. Well control experts and emergency responders are on site and we will conduct a thorough investigation when the incident is fully contained. We will provide updates as more facts are known.
“There is nothing more important to us than the safety of our employees and others we partner with in the field. Tonight, our thoughts and prayers go out to all those affected and their loved ones.”