Well explosion leads to evacuation

Published: Mar. 10, 2006 at 9:22 PM CST|Updated: Apr. 20, 2006 at 3:09 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Meaux Well #1, in the Indian Bayou area, northeast of Kaplan.
Meaux Well #1, in the Indian Bayou area, northeast of Kaplan.
Cell phone video of the Meaux Well #1 explosion.
Cell phone video of the Meaux Well #1 explosion.

Reported by Libby White

Around 250 Vermilion Parish residents are out of house and home Friday night. This after an early morning well explosion on Tan Road in the Kaplan - Indian Bayou area.  A town hall meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday on the second floor of the Abbeville courthouse in the town square to update the community.

"About 3:30 this morning we woke up to the sound of neighbors banging on houses saying you've got to get out, the well blew!," Indian Bayou resident Len Villegoyn said.

Like hundreds of others, Villegoyn and his wife evacuated immediately with just the clothes off their backs. "It was foggy, but you could see the smoke," Villegoyn said. "You could tell it was gas, you could smell it."

Those living within a mile radius of the site, 74 families according to Brammer Engineering which operates the well,  were sent to Indian Bayou Elementary School.  "Shortly after we arrived here, there was an explosion," Villegoyn said. "The well site caught fire. A lot of rumbling, fire about 200 foot up."

"The well that blew out is owned by Keyser Francis, Brammer is the operator of the well and Gray Wolf was the drilling company on the well at the time of the incident," Louisiana State Trooper Willie Williams said. The Louisiana State Police HAZMAT unit is investigating the explosion.

"We don't know a cause," Williams said.  "We are waiting to get more information from the actual well and do a better inspection of the well."

Seven intersections have been blocked off. That means even if your house is just past an intersection that has been bariccaded off, you can't get in until the all clear is given. So, company representatives are making hotel arrangements for evacuees who woke up to a scary situation.

"I'm getting the shakes now, but you don't have time to think about it," Villegoyn said. "It's a rude awakening."

Roads that are closed off include several intersections with LA 699, LA 700, LA 25 and LA 92.

Albert Lacombe with Brammer Engineering says there were no injuries or damage to the environment. The well is located 15 miles southwest of Lafayette.  The fire has stopped burning at the surface, but a diesel fire continues to flame, causing smoke.  There is a no-fly zone in the area.

A website has also been set up for updates and the latest developments.