A natural gas drilling rig caught fire a little before 1 p.m. Friday, April 1, in the southeastern corner of Village Creek Park in Hardin County near Lumberton There are no known injuries, the state park remains open for business, and the fire is contained and under control, with experts coming to try to extinguish the burning rig.
All rig workers are safe and accounted for, and no state park visitors or staff were affected by the incident, which is located in a remote area about 2.5 miles southeast of the park headquarters.
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department has a surface use agreement with the rig operator, Choice Exploration of Arlington, to allow them to drill in the state park. The company provided in kind services to TPWD as part of the agreement, including a survey of new property, fencing of the park’s southern boundary, and improved road access to park property. The drilling rig is located inside a parcel of about 1,400 acres of newly acquired property that was added to the state park last fall.
The burning rig created a small wildfire that has been extinguished, burning less than five acres of mostly brush and some recently replanted trees. The Texas Forest Service has bulldozed a firebreak around the rig to contain the fire and prevent it from spreading.
This afternoon, oil and gas fire fighting experts from Boots & Coots International Well Control, Inc. in Houston were being called in to control the fire.
The state park remains open to the public for business as usual, except that the park’s Water Oak Trail and associated Yaupon Loop Trail near the fire location are closed to the public until the fire is put out and the area is fully secured.