Residents of Penal Rock Road broke out into panic on Sunday after a bush fire engulfed two oil wells, fuelling fear of an explosion.
However, firefighters were able to get the blaze under control with no loss to property and no injuries.
Apart from a house about 100 feet away, the wells are situated in a bushy area a few feet away from the road at the one and three quarter mile mark. However, there are houses on the opposite side of the road.
According to a release from the Heritage Petroleum Company Ltd, the company was notified of a fire around 3.30 pm at inactive wells BP 371 & BP 373 at Penal Rock Road. “Preliminary investigations indicated that the incident was the result of a bush fire that had spread to the locations and caused a valve to leak. Personnel from Heritage and the Fire Services units in Siparia and Mon Repos were informed and responded,” the company said in a release.
The company said the fire was extinguished at 5.30 p.m and the line was isolated. According to the company, the requisite safety precautions and repair works have been completed.
“Sensitisation sessions were held with nearby residents and there were no reports of injury or of persons in need of medical care,” it added.
The company said air quality tests were also conducted and the results indicated there was no threat to on-site personnel or to nearby residents. It said clean-up of residual oil was in-progress and all regulatory agencies, including the Ministry of Energy and Energy Affairs; Environmental Management Authority (EMA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA) had been notified.
When Guardian Media visited yesterday there was a team of personnel from the company and the ministry on site.
A resident who lived opposite the site said he and his family, including his newborn baby, five and 11-year-old daughters had to leave their home because of the volume of smoke. The mechanic shop owner, who identified himself only as Boe, said, “It started off small we did not think it would go so far. I hear voom and the well catch on fire. The fire was more than 50 feet high. It was blazing.”
He said the fire truck arrived on the scene more than an hour after they contacted them. He said sometime later a second truck came to the scene and they used foam to out the fire.
“It was scary because we did not know if it would explode.”
Resident Darren Barban said he saw the thick black smoke from his home but he did go to the site because he was afraid the wells would explode.
Reporter: Sascha Wilson