FRANKLIN COUNTY, AL (WAFF) - An explosion sent a Franklin County drilling site up in flames and three workers to the hospital on Friday afternoon. As of Tuesday, the fire was still burning.
The explosion happened at Seminole Creek Farm on Franklin County Road 724 near Tharptown.
The blast came from crews digging a water well. Officials say they struck a pocket of methane gas.
Seminole Creek Farm owner Scott Seal said three workers with Gentry Drilling Inc. were airlifted to UAB Hospital with burn injuries. They were reportedly conscious and talking when they arrived at the hospital.
Homes were evacuated on a one-mile stretch of County Road 724 between County Road 83 and County Road 75 near Seminole Creek Farm.
"As the gas comes up it could come to these houses and all over here, and somebody drive by and flicker a cigarette, if their hot water heater kicks on or whatever, it could cause an explosion," said Franklin County EMA Director Jody Hitt.
The Russellville Fire Department and the Alabama Department of Environmental Management said they were looking to bring in mud and cement trucks to try and cap the fire after the first night. They decided it was too dangerous to move Friday night because of the intense pressure from the rising gas.
A crew from Northwest Alabama Gas responded. General manager Heath Reed said they've never had a situation like this and don't know if they can help.
Crews are still trying to determine if the gas pocket they hit 300 feet below the surface is a pocket or if it's a vein that leads to a large reserve of gas.
Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell says this fire poses a very unique and difficult challenge.
"Anytime you have a fire that's dealing with gas, methane, you don't want to put it out. As firemen, you hate to see something burn. The results would have been a whole lot worse if we'd have put it out," said Mansell.
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