Phil Konopacky Sistersville VFD
One of the three workers hospitalized after a fire at a gas compressor station in Tyler County last week has died.
The fire followed an explosion at the station in Wick near Middlebourne on Thursday night.
The Tyler County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday that Bruce Phipps, 56, of Marietta, Ohio, died around 11:25 p.m. Friday night.
Phipps and the other two employees suffered severe burns and were flown directly to the West Penn Burn Center in Pittsburgh. A fourth employee was injured, but treated and released at a local hospital.
“When we arrived on scene we had a track-hoe on fire and two tanks were on fire,” said Jason Maisey, Assistant Chief of the Middlebourne VFD. “This was not a well, this was a compressor station.”
The facility is owned by Marietta, Ohio based Eureka-Hunter.
Maisey said the workers were using a new piece of equipment to “pig” the line. However, it’s unclear what caused the fire. The blaze was intense and rekindled several times due to the heat. He said firemen took more than an hour to get it out.
“We went in and shut the valves off feeding the tanks. What was burning was what was in the tanks on top. It was very flammable,” he said. “It kept reigniting and burning off. We climbed on the tank, shut the lid, and it put it out.”
Becasue of the increased work in the Marcellus Shale, such fires are become more common and Maisey and his crew are having to learn fast how to deal with them.
“It’s new to us, but we’ve been through a couple of different well training classes,” he said. “We’re getting to where we can do what we need to do.”