ALBANY, Ohio – The flame is out from a gas fire that had been burning since Aug. 23, 2017.
A special team from Enbridge Energy arrived Aug. 24 to evaluate the situation. While the pillar of fire is gone and the hole sealed, a waiting period of 24 hours must be observed to see if the seal will hold. Once it has been determined that the seal has held and that it is safe, State Route 681 will reopen. Michael Barnes, a spokesperson for Enbridge, said the roadway should reopen on Aug. 25 between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
“We know it is a serious situation,” Barnes said and added that the company had been working toward a solution. He said the additional personnel had been deployed around 9:30 a.m. on Aug. 24. It was that team that was able to extinguish the flame.
Barnes said no underground pipelines had been struck or damaged in the incident. It had been a naturally occurring pocket of gas. He said they had geologists at the work site, but the pocket was not discovered until it had been struck and it ignited.
The fire was caused while Enbridge Energy employees were doing work on a gas pipeline expansion near the Athens County and Meigs County border. An unknown pocket of gas was struck while drilling a hole and ignited. Equipment was destroyed. No one was injured, but the flame continued to be fed from the underground gas pocket.
Albany and Scipio Fire Departments responded and State Route 681 was closed as a safety precaution. The pillar of fire was just feet from the roadway. They have remained on scene monitoring the situation from the beginning. The Athens County Sheriff’s Office has also been on scene assisting with securing the site and closing the roadway.