02 December 2015

Finnally choked off

A correspondent writes from Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 1 : - American ingenuity and persistence have triumphed over the most stubborn oil field fire in history, and so Mr. Myron M. Kinley is home from the world’s longest fire run — from Tulsa 7000 miles to Moreni, Roumania. Before Mr. Kinley, who is famous for his fire-fighting exploits in this country, set out to harness the veritable volcano, the blazing Roumanian well had caused 14 fatalities and cost $750,000 in material damage and expense over a period of two years. 
After he began operations, six months were required to tame the unruly well, which spouted gas at the rate of 250,000,000 cubic feet daily from a sand 5000 feet deep. The well blew wild and caught fire on May 28, 1929. Resources of the Roumanian Government and of the American oil company holding the drilling concession proved insufficient to control it. In addition to those killed, more than 100 persons were injured in the explosions and mishaps at the well. Steel equipment was melted by the intense heat. The drilling engine was never found, although twisted bits of the steel derrick were dragged from the flames. By spring of 1931 the fire had burned out a crater 250 feet wide and 65 feet deep. From a hundred crevices in the crater walls burned smaller torches, fed from gas escaping through earth fissured by the heat. Mr. Kinley went to Vienna to attend a convention last summer. Thence he proceeded to Roumania to seek permission to snuff the huge torch. With two assistants, whom the Roumanian Government permitted him to employ - an American and a Roumanian - Mr. Kinley dragged explosives to the edge of the crater and lowered them in fire-proof wrappings near the fire. Streams of water were played on the men constantly as they approached the dames. “We used hundreds of pounds of explosives blasting dirt into the hole”, Mr. Kinley explained. Water was played on the crater continually and the mud and cement used in the operation boiled and bubbled like lava. The resemblance to a volcano was heightened by the fire which burst through frequently, sometimes in an explosion that hurled the boiling mixture high into the air. The fire finally was choked off by filling the crater with the hardening cement mixture, which was gradually cooled by tons of water. Actual work began Aug. 3, 1931, and the task was completed Feb. 7, when the well was tapped far underground and the gas turned into pipe lines for commercial use.”

The Macleay Chronicle ( Australia New South Wales Kempsey ) 
Wednesday 11 May 1932

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