Major Fire in Williston Forces Evacuations - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Major Fire in Williston Forces Evacuations

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Explosions and fire rocked an oilfield service company on the southeast edge of Williston at about midnight.

The fire at Red River Supply burned through the night and day, forcing the Federal Aviation Administration to suspend all air traffic at the Williston Airport, nearly three miles away.

The fire led officials to recommend that anyone working or living within a half-mile stay away.

And the North Dakota Department of Health began monitoring air quality.

Perry Olson reports from Williston.

The sight was spectacular just past midnight Tuesday...flames shooting hundreds of feet into the early morning sky on the east side of Williston -- Craig Coponen was right there not long after the fire started...

(Craig Coponen - Witness to Fire) "We were watching for about five minutes and then you would hear a 'boom!' and it was going crazy. About a half hour in stuff was actually flying through the air so people had to move back their vehicles and it was actually crazy."

What was fueling the explosive scene? Materials used in the Bakken fracking process... Acids, mud, diesel fuel and more. Once it was established early on what officials were dealing with...extra precaution had to be taken...

(Mike Hallesy - Williams County Emergency Manager) "And at that point we made the determination to bring in our hazardous material response team to begin air monitoring to we could determine air safety and quality."

The National Guard helped with that effort along with numerous other state and local agencies who quickly descended upon Williston. The blaze forced the closure of Highway 1804. While the fire was intense, crews were able to salvage nearby buildings...but the main facility was left to burn.

(Perry Olson - KX News) "Officials are concerned that putting water on the flames could cause some contamination issues. Therefore this is a sight that folks in this area will see for another day or two." (Mike Hallesy - Williams County Emergency Manager) "Because it is so close to waterways and various things, the fire department decided instead of adding water and washing these additional things into the containment area within Williston which would eventually be pushed into the river, it would be best to just protect other property around it and let this stuff burn up.

And that is the let it burn, and continue to monitor the air quality. In Williston, Perry Olson, KX News.

The State Fire Marshall is in Williston now to try and establish how this fire at Red River Supply started.

Hallesy says about 50 firefighters were on scene plus mutual aid from Epping and Ray.

No injuries have been reported.


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