By Elizabeth Daley
PITTSBURGH, Feb 12 (Reuters) - A fire at a Chevron Corp natural gas well in western Pennsylvania was being left to burn on Wednesday after an explosion early Tuesday left one worker injured and another missing, state officials said.
Flames shot from the head of the Lanco 7H well, which is 50 miles south of Pittsburgh in the Marcellus shale region and emergency workers were unable to get near on Wednesday.
The fire could continue indefinitely as gas flows up the well from underground, said John Poister, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
"There's a large amount of gas in the well, and it could burn, if we just sat there and watched it, for months or years," Poister said.
Chevron said it did not know how long the fire would continue.
Putting the flames out will probably involve some sort of smothering, possibly with foam or chemicals, Poister said. Wild Well Control, an organization specialized in fighting well fires, remains at the scene to devise a method of extinguishing the blaze.
No homes or structures were threatened by the blaze, and the DEP will perform air quality tests to check for pollution. The fire is extremely hot, but isolated to the well pad, a space Poister said was half the size of a football field.
Nineteen workers were on the well pad at the time of the explosion.
The workers were preparing to run tubing down the well at the time of the incident, Chevron said, and no drilling or hydraulic fracturing taking place.