Gas well still burning in south Louisiana
Lightning touched off blaze
June 28, 1999
AMELIA, Louisiana (CNN) -- Businesses were expected to reopen Monday, as firefighters continued their struggle to extinguish a natural gas fire in a well on the edge on the Intracoastal Waterway.
Eleven families evacuated from nearby Avoca Island were allowed briefly to return home on Sunday to care for pets and pick up clothing and other necessities, officials said.
Workers aboard two firefighting barges were pumping thousands of gallons of water per minute on the well to cool the structure as nearby tanks and other equipment were moved to safety. Specialists gathered at the scene to determine how to put out the blaze.
The natural gas fire was touched off Friday night by lightning, and continued to flare near the waterway in south central Louisiana late Sunday.
No pipelines were affected by the fire, which produced minimal environmental impact, said Chuck Wolf, a spokesman for the joint response team that includes federal and state environmental officials, the Coast Guard and Meridian Resource Corp.(TMR.N) of Houston, owner of the affected wells.
A producing gas well adjacent to the fire was shut down and a heat shield erected to protect equipment there.
Residents wore ear plugs to protect their hearing.
No barges were backed up on the Intracoastal Waterway on Sunday, the Coast Guard reported. The waterway is open to one-way traffic east and west, alternating every six hours, with a detour through Bayou Chene.
Meridian is paying for lodging, food and other daily expenses for the families until the well is capped and they can safely return, Wolf said.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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