People Return Home Following Watonga Natural Gas Rig Explosion

Tuesday, September 20th 2011, 8:14 am
By: News 9

WATONGA, Oklahoma -- A natural gas rig suddenly exploded late Monday night in Watonga, sending workers scrambling for safety and forcing several families to evacuate their homes.

About a dozen workers were on the rig when the blast occurred around 10 p.m. about 80 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. Fortunately, they all escaped and no one was hurt.

Witnesses say they heard four or five explosions and flames and smoke shot into the air. Homes within a two mile radius were evacuated.

"There were several houses around the rig itself we had to evacuate and got good cooperation from everybody doing that. Then we moved our perimeter about two miles and started evacuating more homes," Blaine County Sheriff Ricky Ainsworth said.

Evacuated families were allowed to return to their homes Tuesday morning, although the rig continued to burn. Continental Resources of Enid operates the rig. The company recently bought the current Devon building and plan to relocate to Oklahoma City.

It's not known yet what caused the explosion.