Well burnoff near Bayfield prompts emergency calls

A natural-gas well burnoff set off a scramble of firefighters, law-enforcement personnel and BP workers Sunday night after it was initially reported as a well explosion.

La Plata County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Schmidt said he initially arrived at the well, located southeast of Bayfield off County Road 523, around 8 p.m. and saw flames lessening in intensity to below the level of surrounding sound-suppression walls.

Schmidt said firefighters from Durango Fire & Rescue Authority arrived and determined it was a well burnoff, a normal operation, and not an explosion.

Schmidt said BP personnel also arrived to take control of the situation.

About 7:50 p.m., several calls came in to emergency dispatch reporting an explosion, but Schmidt was unsure if anyone witnessed the event, prompting the emergency calls.

The well was not occupied by workers at the time the flames went off, Schmidt said.

Additional firefighters called to the scene were called off, after BP crews and firefighters on scene determined they could handle the situation, Schmidt said.