Oilfield fire south of Lovell seen for miles

A spectacular oilfield fire 10 miles south of Lovell Monday afternoon shot flames and black smoke into the sky until the operating company was able to turn off the flow of oil.

The soaring plume of smoke could be seen for miles around.

An oilfield treater facility 10 miles south of Lovell was ablaze for several hours Monday afternoon, sending black smoke high into the sky. Firemen monitored the fire until the flow from neighboring wells could be turned off.
David Peck photo

The Lovell Volunteer Fire Dept. was called to a fire at the Alkali Anticline Oilfield south of Lovell just west of U.S. Highway 310 in the Blue Hill area just after 2 p.m. Monday, Fire Chief Jim Minchow said. An oil treater station operated by Rim Operating Inc. of Englewood, Colo., which separates water from oil in the field, caught fire following a leak and soon became engulfed by flames as smoke filled the sky.

“A company employee working in a building next to the treater came out to get some tools out of his pickup and saw it smoking,” Captain Bob Mangus said. “He was going to shut the treater down, but it got too smoky. A little smoke was coming out of it, but it didn’t look like it was going to be a terrible deal, but by the time we got there it was fully involved. The guy said to not do anything until he shut the other wells down. There are five wells that feed into the treater.”

“The damage was done, and it was too hot to do anything,” Minchow said. “There was H2S gas and other chemicals in the building, so we just monitored the situation.

“He said if we put it out while oil was still leaking it would be a bigger mess,” Minchow added, noting that it was better at the time to let the fire burn off the oil as the flow was cut off from the wells. He said the fire slowly burned down over about a four-hour period, and the fire department returned to the hall around 4:45 as the fire was reduced to a smolder.

Trailer home fire

The fire department was called to a structure fire southwest of Lovell at 1457 Road 7½ Saturday at 11:23 p.m.

“It ended up being a wood-burning stove,” Minchow said. “The stove was going and wood was piled next to the stove. Earlier that evening a family member opened it to put more wood in the stove and apparently some sparks got out, igniting the wood next to the stove.

“It burned the wall up and underneath the counter. A plastic PEX pipe water line melted and sprayed water down on the fire to keep it under control.”

Once they arrived, firemen were able to easily douse the fire and vent smoke from the single-wide trailer home.

“As a precaution, if you have a wood-burning stove, don’t stack the wood next to the stove,” Minchow said. “Have it in a secure area.”

Mountain crash

Firemen were also called to the scene of a one-vehicle rollover on U.S. 14A atop the Big Horn Mountains at the Hunt Mountain Road turnoff Sunday afternoon.

The call came in at 1:13 p.m., Minchow said, noting that a Sheridan man was driving west when he looked to the side of the highway at a cow that had been hit and killed Friday night and was still next to the highway.

The highway was curving at that point and the driver failed to negotiate the curve. The pickup he was driving went through the borrow pit and up and onto
the side of a hill, rolling one time and coming to rest on its wheels. The driver wasn’t injured, Minchow said.

By David Peck