Emergency Crews Respond to Gas Compression Station Fire
Thick black smoke billowed from the Lathrop Compressor Station 4685 about a half-mile north of Springville, Susquehanna County on Thursday afternoon. An explosion and subsequent fire drew emergency and fire response vehicles from several neighboring townships, although according to a Williams Partner’s LP spokesperson, no one at the station was severely injured.
Lathrop Compressor Station is located just off Route 29, and is operated by Williams Partners, LP and formerly was owned by Cabot Oil and Gas Corp.
Emergency vehicles from Springville, Rush, Montrose, Meshoppen, Laceyville and Tunkhannock were at the scene or at the Springville Baptist Church parking lot, used as a staging area. The Red Cross was also on hand.
Because of two large water retention ponds used in the Marcellus Shale fracking industry near the compressor station, there did not seem to be an issue with obtaining ample water to contain the blaze and it was under control within an hour and completely out shortly after that.
Montrose Fire Company was among the first on the scene, and had one firefighter hundreds of feet up in the air in a bucket to survey the scene. He was, according to emergency dispatches, watching for any spread of the fire, or for any scattering of debris from chilly 15-20 mile an hour winds.
The explosion, which is said to have occurred about noon, severely damaged the rear of the compressor station; loose pieces of what looked like siding or other building material were visible from Route 29.
The emergency call for the explosion and fire, however, was not broadcast until 12:44, at which time several area fire and ambulance companies were called out. By about 1:30 p.m., a Hazardous Material Response team had arrived as had the State Police.
The area was quickly locked down with access roads blocked off and Route 29 down to one lane in the vicinity of the Compressor Station. An automated system at the compression station shut down the flow of gas after the explosion.
DEP plans a thorough investigation into the cause of the explosion which some have described as beginning with a ‘leak’ of natural gas. They were on scene monitoring air quality and claimed nothing detrimental had been released. However, the acrid smell of smoke from the explosion and fire was distinct to anyone within a half-mile or so of the station. Several hours after the event, emergency crews were still on standby in Springville.