Two people were killed in a blast that occurred at a natural gas well in Indiana Township, northeast of Pittsburgh, at about 9:50 a.m. Friday, the Associated Press (AP) reported.

The fire from the blast was burning three hours after the explosion.

The cause of the blast was not known Friday, but welders were believed to have been working near the well in a wooded area, said Helen Humphries, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. "Why they were welding or what caused the explosion, I don't know yet," she said as reported by AP.

The affected well was reported to be the producing well Murray Heirs No. 6, a shallow well drilled in May 2008, according to Humphries. The well was not producing from the Marcellus Shale. However, the producer group Marcellus Shale Coalition quickly issued a statement.

"What happened in Indiana Township today reminds us all how critically important it is to value the health and safety of your workforce," the group said. "That's why our member companies and their contractors continue to work day-in and day-out to ensure those protections and safeguards are in place, and are constantly improved and strengthened, as new technology and insight becomes available. These are investments we will continue to make, part of an industrywide effort to implement a series of best management practices aimed at ensuring that clean-burning energy resources from the Marcellus are developed the right way and in a manner that protects our workers and the environment above all else."

Earlier this month a fire occurred at a well pad operated by Chesapeake Energy Corp. in Auburn Township, PA (see Daily GPI, July 16). Early last month an EOG Resources well in Clearfield County, PA, experienced a blowout (see Daily GPI, July 14).

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