Fire extinguished near Boulder
BOULDER – A disaster was averted Monday, March 5, after a “frac tank” caught fire with two other tanks in the vicinity at the Anticline Disposal, LLC., facility near Boulder.
At 1:46 p.m. Sublette County Unified Fire Battalions were dispatched to the fire that was visible from Highway 191.
A total of 15 Sublette County Unified firefighters from Battalions 1, Pinedale 2, Big Piney 3, and Boulder 4 responded with one class A pumper and three water tenders. R&R Transport was also used to provide an additional five fresh water transports to supplement the water flow needed in the event of an extended cooling/ suppression operation.
Tires from the tank ignited when a driver was attempting to thaw out a frozen valve on the “frac tank” using a propane torch. There were no injuries, but tires on the adjacent tank were also involved. Units from unified fire department were on the scene by 2:15 p.m. While the initial fire produced large amounts of black smoke and flame, the fire appeared to have only involved the tires on two of the six tanks in the area. When fire units arrived most of the flames had been extinguished and the involved tanks were still extremely hot.
Firefighters, under the direction of the on scene incident commander, began fire suppression and cooling of the tanks while remaining resources set up a water shuttle operation in the event the fire spread to the other tanks. The flames were extinguished; the tanks in the area cooled with water and emergency operations were concluded by 4:04 p.m.
According to Michael Petty, information officer, industrial fires such as this one have the potential to be large in scale due to the amounts of flammable hydrocarbons on site. Fresh water is a critical resource during large-scale fires, not just in the oil and gas field, but also in town. Sublette County Unified Fire has been conducting trainings and developing procedures to efficiently provide the large amounts of water, up to 1,500 gallons per minute, required to suppress large fires even without the availability of hydrants.
In this case the water shuttle operation wasn’t needed but the chance to set up and put these new skills to use is invaluable for the next time it is needed, Petty said.