Truck catches fire at Apache oil well near Balmorhea

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In a handout photo, Apache oil operations in Texas. New oil and gas discoveries, including one by Apache, could further cement two realities of the energy business: oil prices could stay low for a long time, and oil companies will continue to explore to increase their reserves for future production. (Gaylon Wampler/Apache via The New York Times)

The cab of an 18-wheeler caught fire on an Apache Corp. oil drilling pad outside of Balmorhea just after noon on Thursday, scaring some residents and protest campers near there.

The fire, at Apache’s Alta well site north of Interstate 10 in Reeves County, engulfed the cab and sent plumes of smoke into the air. Apache reported no injuries, but shut in the well temporarily as a precaution, a spokeswoman said. The fire was extinguished without other incident, she said.

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The truck was a water hauler. It wasn’t clear if it was carrying water onto the site for use in hydraulic fracturing or off of the site for disposal.

“We saw the smoke from 10 miles away,” said George Cadena, 49, from El Paso, who is staying at a camp set up to protest drilling around Balmorhea State Park. “It was a very heavy-tire burning smell.”

Cadena said the fire lasted for about 45 minutes.

David Hunn

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