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Two injured in Lebanon natural gas rig blaze

Members of the Eaton Fire Department were called to the scene of a natural gas rig fire in Lebanon around 5 a.m. Thursday morning.

While something must have sparked an ignition, Norse Energy spokesman Dennis Holbrook said, "it's not clear to us yet what that might have been."

Norse Energy is the parent company of Nornew, the company that owns natural gas rigs throughout the area.

Two individuals working at the time of the fire experienced burns to the face and arms, Holbrook said. They were taken to the hospital and later released.

"Our concern first and foremost was the safety of the people involved," said Holbrook.

After intentionally allowing the fire to "burn down" for several hours, the fire was extinguished in the afternoon by outside agencies with the expertise to handle a rig fire.

In addition to the fire department, a Nornew safety expert and local vice president arrived early on the scene to assess the situation. Later, Department of Energy and Conservation officials as well as other companies arrived, and companies with expertise in handling such fires extinguished the blaze.

Several factors could have contributed to the fire, Holbrook said. Besides the natural gas itself, the hydraulics and diesel fuel in the actual rig could also have burned.

The company is currently looking into determining the initial cause of the incident, Holbrook said, "trying to determine what might have led to it and what we can do to mitigate that in the future."

According to Holbrook, the fire started after drilling and a pipe was being removed from the well.

The Eaton Fire Department was on call throughout the morning and afternoon.

"We pretty much just preserve the scene and take care of any injuries," Eaton Fire Department Chief Rick Stoddard said. "We're here to give them a hand if they need it."

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