5 dead after oil rig in Oklahoma explodes

Posted at 1:27 PM, Jan 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-23 19:39:29-05

QUINTON, Oklahoma — The bodies of five workers were found on Tuesday, one day after a fiery explosion ripped through an eastern Oklahoma drilling rig, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and leaving a derrick crumpled on the ground, an emergency official said.

Aerial footage from midday Monday showed several fires still burning at the site and the derrick, a towering metal structure above the well, collapsed onto the ground. It was not until Tuesday when recovery crews were able to reach those killed. 

Officials said about 15 workers were working on an oil rig when it exploded; one person was treated at the scene. The explosion happened in a wooded area.

After several hours, the main structure collapsed. 

Nitrous oxide is leaking, officials said.

Oklahoma Office of Emergency Management spokeswoman Keli Cain said she could not immediately confirm any injuries or fatalities.

Cain said state environmental and regulatory officials were called to the scene. A local emergency dispatcher said the sheriff, undersheriff and county emergency management director were there.

The drilling site was being operated by Oklahoma City-based Red Mountain Energy, said Matt Skinner, a spokesman for the Oklahoma Corporation Commission, which regulates oil and gas operators. Telephone and email messages left with Red Mountain were not immediately returned.

Skinner said a company that specializes in rig fires and other well control problems also responded to the blaze.

Oklahoma Corporation Commission confirms "Red Mountain Energy LLC" out of OKC is the operator at the site. The company confirmed this was a drilling rig.

To OCC knowledge, the OCC has not handled anything with this company before. It has two people at the scene.

State Emergency Management says it has contacted the DEQ and the Corporation Commission because of the type of incident.