SUBLETTE COUNTY, WYO – Sublette County Unified Fire Battalions were dispatched to a report of a “frac” style tank that was on fire with additional exposures threatened at the Anticline Disposal LLC Facility near Boulder, Wyo.
The call came in around 1:46pm on March 5. A total of 15 SCUF firefighters from Battalions 1 (Pinedale), 2 (Big Piney) and 4 (Boulder) responded with one class A Pumper and three water tenders. R&R Transport was also utilized to provide an additional five fresh water transports to supplement the water flow needs in the event of an extended cooling/suppression operation.
Firefighters ascertained tires from the tank ignited when a driver was attempting to thaw out a frozen valve on the “frac tank” using a weed burner (propane torch). There were no injuries from the incident but the tires on the adjacent tank were also involved.
Units from unified fire were on scene by 2:15pm. While the initial fire produced large amounts of black smoke and flame, the fire appeared to have involved only the tires on two of the six tanks in the area. When fire units arrived most of the flames had died down and the involved tanks were still extremely hot.
Firefighters under the direction of the on-scene Incident Commander began fire suppression and cooling of the tanks while remaining resources set up a water shuttle operation in the event the fire spread to the other tanks. The flames were extinguished and the tanks in the area were cooled with water. Emergency operations were concluded by 4:04pm.
Industrial type fires, such as these, have the potential to be large in scale due to the amounts of flammable hydrocarbons on site. Fresh water is a critical resource during large-scale fires, not just in the oil and gas field but also in town. Sublette County Unified Fire has been conducting trainings and developing procedures to efficiently provide the large amounts of water (up to 1500 gals/min) required to suppress large fires even without the availability of hydrants.
According to SCUF, water shuttle operation weren’t needed in this event, but the chance to set up and put these new skills to use was invaluable for the next time it is needed.