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Amy Dalrymple, Forum News Service, Published March 26 2014

Officials investigating oil rig fire near Watford City; 1 worker burned

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – Inspectors are investigating a drilling rig fire that occurred near here Tuesday afternoon that resulted in one worker’s injury, officials said Wednesday.

Authorities responded to a report of a rig explosion at 4:16 p.m. Tuesday at a Nabors Drilling rig on a Whiting Petroleum location, the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office said.

When responders arrived, all workers were clear from the area and one man, identified as Brian Busby, suffered burns to his hands and head that were not life-threatening, the Sheriff’s Office said. Busby was transported to the McKenzie County Hospital in Watford City for treatment.

As the fire died down in intensity, fire crews applied foam to the fire to put it out. The initial cause of the fire is believed to be a pressure build-up that caused material to escape and ignite, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration sent a team to investigate the incident, said Eric Brooks, area director for the Bismarck office.

The Department of Mineral Resources on Wednesday sent an inspector to the site, which is about 17 miles northeast of Watford City, said spokeswoman Alison Ritter.

No releases of crude oil or other liquids were reported due to the fire, Ritter said. Personnel from Nabors were inspecting the rig structure and the top drive for damage, Ritter said.

Crews were drilling at about 15,000 feet at the time of the fire, Ritter said. The cause of the fire is under investigation, she said.

Representatives from Whiting and Nabors did not return calls Wednesday for comment.