LACKAWANNOCK TWP., Pa. (WKBN) – There was a fire Friday afternoon at a gas well in Mercer County’s Lackawannock Township. It forced people in a half-mile radius to evacuate for about four hours until the fire could be extinguished.

It happened at the Hillcorp Energy Company Lackawannock Larmon Central Facility at the corner of Mercer-West Middlesex Road — which is also Route 318 — and Bend Road.

The fire at the gas well started around 1 p.m. and black smoke could be seen coming from the site.

When he arrived, West Middlesex Fire Chief Rich Garrett described the situation as “extremely dangerous,” saying “that’s why we waited it out.”

Fearing an explosion, Garrett ordered a stretch of Route 318 to be closed, and Lackawannock Township supervisor Homer Johnson helped evacuate people within a half-mile radius. Some people sheltered at the township hall.

“We had to evacuate about 100 people, about 30 homes,” Garrett said.

Back at the fire scene, it was determined what exactly was burning.

“It seems to be a compressor caught on fire. Unknown why. There was major gas in there so we had to wait for the gas to be bled off before we could safely attack the fire,” Garrett said.

That didn’t come until around 3:30 p.m., two and a half hours after the fire started.

Garrett: “We kept eyes on it. We made trips back in to look at it and then come back up.”
Reporter Stan Boney: “At what point did you decide it was safe to go back in there?”
Garrett: “Once we found out from the people who operate the gas well that the pressure had been completely relieved.”

The fire was quickly extinguished. By 4:30 p.m., the evacuation order was lifted and the road reopened. No one was hurt.

Hilcorp spokesman Nick Piatek released a statement Friday evening that read, in part, “We are thankful for the quick response of the fire professionals… the exact cause of the fire has not yet been determined.”

Nadine Grimley contributed to this report.