A fire broke out at the Baghjan Oil Field in Tinsukia district of Assam on Tuesday, where a major blowout took place on May 27. This came days after the Oil India Limited warned that gas was still leaking “uncontrollably” out of the plant and said the company was adopting measures to avert a blaze.
The incident occurred at well number five of the plant and no immediate casualties were reported. Images taken at the site of the blaze showed dark clouds of smoke billowing from the plant and engulfing the premises. The incident has triggered panic among the residents of the Baghjan village, where the gas-producing well is located. Reports suggest that efforts to contain the fire are on.
The National Disaster Response Force has been deployed at the site and state officials are also reviewing the situation, according to NDTV. The Air Force has sent three fire engines to control the blaze and the Army has also reached the area.
There were around 300 people working at the site to control the blowout. Among them there were around 40-50 people in the immediate vicinity of the fire.
“We are doing a headcount to dismiss all possibilities of injury,” Tridiv Hazarika, Oil India Limited spokesperson, told Scroll.in. “So, far there have been no cases of major injuries. One person has suffered minor burn injury.”
To prevent a fire, OIL had been maintaining a “water umbrella” by continuously spraying water over the area. “It helped that it was also raining the first five-six days after the blowout occurred,” Hazarika said.
The fire broke out at 1.30 pm. Hazarika added that the dry weather could have led to the blaze. “Today also the water umbrella was there, but the temperature was around 34 degrees and it was extremely dry,” he said. “There is a drilling mobile rig on the top of the blowout site and there are a number of iron pipes hanging over it, so there’s a high possibility that the wind could have caused a speak in those pipes.”
The official, however, said that the fire would not impact the blowout control exercise. “The experts who have come in had anticipated the possibility[of a fire],” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal spoke to Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan about the blaze. Industries Minister Chandramohan Patowary was sent to the site to monitor the situation.
At least 3,000 people in a 1.5-km radius of the oil well had to be evacuated on May 27 after the blowout. Oil India Limited had approached several experts to help stop the gas leak. The oil blowout destroyed local tea gardens and water bodies in Assam. Last week, locals forced to move to relief camps staged a protest demanding compensation for their loss.
In a press release, the company had said that it was continuously pumping water to the well to minimise the chances of a fire and had called in a team of experts from Singapore to help manage the situation. “Oil fire service and with mutual aids are stationed at the site,” the company said. “The presence of gas and air and water quality are being monitored at constant interval at strategic points.”
The oil-producing giant said that ambulances and paramedical staff are on stand by at the site and a National Disaster Response Force team has been deployed to supervise the relief operation.