By Kelsey Bray and Trevor Brown
The Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A fire with flames 100 to 200 feet high erupted Friday at an oil well east of Cheyenne owned by SM Energy.
The fire at 1781 County Road 136 started in an oil treater containing 20 to 250 gallons of an oil and water mixture, Laramie County Fire District 2 spokesman Lew Simpson said. The treater overflowed and was ignited.
An oil treater removes sediment and water from crude oil before it is transported to refineries.
"It ignited, and it was threatening about 42,000 gallons of other oil fuel stored nearby," Simpson said. "We managed to control it — we shut off the fuel to the fire."
About 60 firefighters responded to the scene from several agencies, including six Laramie County fire districts, the Torrington Fire Department and F.E. Warren Air Force Base. Firefighters from the local Frontier Oil refinery also helped out.
The fire was extinguished in about an hour. No injuries were reported.
As of 2 p.m., firefighters were still on the scene pouring water on the main storage tank to cool it down.
"We're just doing some preventative stuff and assisting with the investigation," Simpson said. "It should take a couple of hours. We're starting to release units and change out personnel."
Simpson said a call was received at about 10 a.m., and crews arrived about 20 minutes later.
"We had trouble trying to get to the location because it is remote," he said.
Laramie County planning director Gary Kranse said the county tries to map out the location of the wells so first-responders know their exact location.
But he said the county is unable to record the location of all the wells.
"Not all the companies have been real good about getting us the addresses," he said.
Kranse did not know if SM Energy's well address was listed.
He added that the county's database also does not include some of the older wells.
According to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission's database, the well was completed in November 2010. It has been producing oil and gas since then.
According to SM Energy's 2011 fourth-quarter earnings report, the well was producing an average of 280 barrels of oil equivalent per day.
The spilled oil was contained in storage dykes around the tanks, so none of the oil leaked.
James Edward, manager of investor relations for SM Energy, said the company does not yet know the cause of the fire.
"At this time we are just making sure we are handling everything from an environmental and safety standpoint," he said.
He said the company is investigating the incident, but he did not have a timeframe for when they would know more.
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