BLADENSBURG — Knox County Emergency Management Agency Director Brian Hess said the small oil fire Friday afternoon at the intersection of Ohio 541 and McCament Road did not pose a safety threat.
“Under the circumstances, I didn’t see an environmental threat or a life-safety threat, or a health hazard,” Hess said Sunday.
Hess estimated that between 35 and 50 gallons of oil and water were all that remained in a 3-by-5-foot retention trench which had been dug to catch the oil when workers moved a 1930s oil tank.
Hess said that a third-party contractor was doing the work on the old well. The practice, known as fracking, according to Hess, is supposed to determine whether an old established well can be made productive again.
When workers ignited the excess oil to burn it off, volunteer Bladensburg firefighter Tish Mahar saw the smoke and reported the fire.
“The smoke was really black,” said Hess. “I was contacted by dispatch and they requested I respond.”
Despite the dark appearance of the smoke, the actual fire was relatively small, Hess said. Firefighters extinguished it quickly with approximately 300 gallons of water, according to Bladensburg Fire Capt. Shawn Coontz.
“We determined there was no environmental or health threat,” Hess said. “I contacted the EPA and I will contact [Ohio Department of Natural Resources] Monday to see if they want to go back to the scene with me.”
Hess said the workers on the scene who had ignited the oil assured him they had the proper permits for the operation. He planned to follow up and check on those permits today.
“I’m going out there Monday to make sure everything is repaired to its natural state,” Hess said, “and to make sure that there is no quantity of oil remaining that could potentially run off into a stream.”