Witnesses describe explosion at Watford City saltwater site

Published: Jan. 17, 2019 at 10:01 PM CST
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An explosion rocked a saltwater disposal site near Watford City early Thursday afternoon.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

Smoke still fills the air just east of Watford City and the fire has been roaring all day. McKenzie County Emergency Management has dealt with explosions like this before, but not many this close to a town.

And because the fire has been burning all day, many residents were able to take in the disaster with their own eyes.

It was a blast that shook locals who were near the first explosion.

“We were just finishing up work, coming down the road. We saw the flames. We stopped by just to take a look at it. Next thing you saw was the big old fire ball go off. You feel the thunder and roar,” said Mike Robertson, Watford City resident.

Many more would follow, as barrels of oil and gas caught fire within view of Watford City residents.

“We looked out the window and that's all we seen was probably anywhere from 100 to 500 feet in the air, flames,” said Ashley Labbe, witness.

Roughly $1.4 million worth of oil and gas was lost in the fire, and trying to put out the fire could come at a huge cost to the environment.

“I don't mind oil spills, but salt water spills I despise. When salt water hits the ground, right now it's frozen but it still hits the ground, it will sterilize the ground,” said Karolin Jappe, McKenzie County Emergency Manager.

Jappe said by letting the fire burn itself out, they can save of cleanup costs too.