Explosion on oil well site kills one, injures three others

One man was killed and three others injured during an explosion and flash fire on an oil well site near Watford City on Saturday.


By Bryan Gallegos

For the DC Herald


According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the men were working on a workover rig on a well site operated by Houston-based XTO Energy Inc. eight miles east of Watford City when the well ignited.

The McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department said Johnny Stassinos, 52, of Rock Springs, Wyo., died Saturday afternoon at Trinity Hospital in Minot from injuries sustained from the fire.

His co-workers, Daniel Montes, 28, of Fruita, Colo., Justin Pyle, of Grand Junction, Colo., and Richard Maheu, 27 of Rock Springs, sustained burns in the fire.

Montes and Maheu suffered third-degree burns on more than 70 percent of their bodies, according to OSHA. They were airlifted to the Regions Burn Center in St. Paul, Minn., where they were listed in critical condition, the sheriff’s department report said.

Pyle was treated for minor burns to his face and released from McKenzie County Healthcare Systems Hospital in Watford City, authorities said.

The men were employees of Most Wanted Well Service and SEI Well Service. They were working on a well that had not been fracked and the well took a “gas kick,” according to the Department of Mineral Resources.

The men were on a workover rig that’s used to perform maintenance at an oil well. An initial investigation found there was a breech in a gas pipe that ignited, state and federal investigators said.

OSHA has launched an investigation into the matter. An investigator visited the site on Monday and will work with local and company officials.

This was the first oilfield-related death in North Dakota in the fiscal year that began last August, compared with seven in the same period during fiscal 2015, according to OSHA. Since late 2010, there have been 108 workplace fatalities in North Dakota, including 48 that were oilfield-related, OSHA said.

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