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Natural gas well explodes in Pa.; 5 Hurt

The Associated Press

BELLE VERNON, Pa. - An explosion at a natural gas well shot flames high into the air Thursday and injured five people, two seriously.

A crew of 17 was attempting to activate the new well at the Rostraver Airport by pouring water down a drilled hole when the blast occurred, said Joel Feldstein, a spokesman for the company that owns the well.

A valve had accidentally opened and allowed gas to escape, said Betsy Mallison, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. The gas passed over machinery and vehicles, which apparently were hot enough to ignite the gas, she said.

Firefighters battled the blaze for two hours at the airport about 20 miles south of Pittsburgh.

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