Assam oil well on fire after 14 days of gas leak; villagers evacuate

The oil well which was leaking natural gas caught fire
The oil well which was leaking natural gas caught fire

The oil well in Assam was leaking natural gas until June 9 when it caught fire. The well belonging to OIL is near Dibru Saikhowa National Park in Assam and the blowout occurred 2 weeks ago.

Tridiv Hazarika, a spokesperson from Oil India Limited, said that they are unsure how the fire started but it is not uncommon as the gases are highly inflammable. According to OIL, the fire started when cleaning operations were ongoing. Hazarika suggested that the hot weather atop the well with gas flowing at a high velocity may have burst due to friction. Earlier, it was raining, but on this day, it was rather hot.

The blowout of the oil well occurred on May 27. Only a few days ago, people started getting increasingly concerned about the risks to the biodiversity as aquatic life started dying. Moreover, the condensation of the gas was forcing people to evacuate from nearby areas.

When the fire started, it was big already. In fact, villagers claim that their houses in Baghjan village burnt some of their houses. However, officials say it is limited to the plinth of the well. According to Bhaskar Pegu, DC Tinsukia, the fire did not spread to water bodies around the well. Moreover, the experts from Singapore should arrive in 24 hours. However, it will still take them 4 weeks to fully control the blowout.

To control the fire, they will need large quantities of water, high discharge pumps and removal of debris. While they were extinguishing the fire, a firefighter suffered from injuries. Officials sent him to the hospital but Hazarika says that it was a β€˜minor’ injury. On the other hand, DC Pegu says he jumped into the water to save himself. Although the houses burned, no one was hurt as they evacuated soon enough. Some people managed to escape right after they heard the loud noise and saw the black smoke rising from the well.

Villagers evacuate after fire

500 families of a village left their homes right after hearing the houses in Baghjan burnt. They took their belongings, such as PAN cards and children’s school certificates. Though they did not have time to pack clothes, they already kept the documents ready in case of such an incident. A local said that they did not get any help.

The CM told the Union Petroleum Minister to take urgent steps to put out the fire as soon as possible. Also, he called the Union Defence Minister to use the Air Force to control the fire in oilfields. Hence, the state government is doing what it can to keep the locals of Baghjan safe. Moreover, he directed the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police to control the situation while ensuring that the people in and around the affected area are still safe.

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