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Gas Well Blast in North Texas Injures One Person

Drillers apparently were trying to fix some problems with a new natural gas well in western Palo Pinto County, TX early Friday when the ground exploded, sending up a fireball seen 100 miles away. Only one person was slightly injured, according to a spokeswoman for the Texas Railroad Commission.

The well was operated by Fort Worth-based Telesis Operating Co. Inc., which had contracted with another company, Sand Dollar Drilling, said Ramona Nye, a commission spokeswoman. Telesis, which had no comment, was planning to issue a statement about the incident.

Following the blast, which left a huge crater, a grass fire burned at least 50 acres by midday Friday in a rural, sparsely populated community about five miles south of Possum Kingdom Lake. Aerial tankers were summoned from the Texas Forest Service to help extinguish the blaze.

Nye said it was a new gas well, and the workers experienced a "gas kick," which sent gas into the well bore. "Generally, gas is kept in formation by drilling mud, but sometimes they hit a gas pocket with higher pressure than their mud."

She said Telesis contacted the commission, which it was required to do, and a commission field inspector was with the drillers late Thursday into early Friday morning as they worked to bring the well under control. However, she said at about 1:45 a.m., the ground erupted.

Nye said the nearby gas pipelines were shut down temporarily until the blast was under control.

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