On July 9th, local media reported a fire broke out after a surge at the ONEOK gas plant near Medford, Oklahoma, requiring citizens in the surrounding location to leave.
Following the occurrence, the Grant County Sheriff’s Office ordered anybody who lives within a two-mile radius of the plant to leave Saturday afternoon. It’s unclear what length of time the evacuation will take.
“Please avoid any travel into or through Medford on U.S. Highway 81 at this time,” the sheriff’s office wrote, adding that at the time, there was an “active incident” at the ONEOK plant.
Medford is a town with a population of less than 1,000 people
Here’s an official statement from ONEOK’s operator stating it is unaware of any injuries at its Medford plant.
“Earlier today there was an incident at ONEOK’s Medford natural gas liquids fractionation facility. All ONEOK personnel are accounted for, and we are unaware of any injuries at this time. We are cooperating with local emergency responders and appreciate their quick response. Our focus continues working with emergency responders to extinguish the fire and the safety of the surrounding community and our employees.”
Medford lies more than 100 miles north of Oklahoma City. The ONEOK center is a gas liquids fractionation center. Fractionation is a procedure in gas processing plants where hydrocarbon mixtures in natural gas are separated to produce items such as ethane, gas, butane, pentanes, and natural gasoline.
Whether such a surge triggered the fire is still unknown, NBC News reported.
Michael and Brittany Stone captured this video of an explosion in Medford, Oklahoma, near the Kansas border. This gas plant fire caused evacuations and road closures #KWCH12 pic.twitter.com/V8Cy8FbYfM
— KWCH Eyewitness News (@KWCH12) July 9, 2022
More details of this incident from The Western Jounal report:
Medford Public School, Blackwell Hotel, Wakita FD, Hawley Church and the Jefferson United Methodist Church opened their doors to those seeking safe shelter from the incident.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning for motorists, instructing them to avoid traveling into or through Medford along U.S. Highway 81.
The sheriff’s office also announced Saturday that ONEOK had organized accommodation for displaced residents in multiple hotels in Enid, which is around 33.7 miles away from Medford. According to the sheriff’s office, the hotels included Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Springhill Suites, LaQuinta and Baymont.
Effective midnight on Sunday, city authorities issued a Mayoral Executive Order extending the evacuation order for residents living south of State Highway 11 to 12:00 p.m. on Sunday.
“Our focus continues working with emergency responders to extinguish the fire and the safety of the surrounding community and our employees,” ONEOK said in a statement shared with CBS News.
ONEOK was “unaware of any injuries,” the corporation said in the statement, according to the outlet.
Authorities are still investigating the cause of the explosion, KWCH-DT reported.
News of the ONEOK fire comes as the nation faces high gas prices, although the prices have been coming down in the past few weeks, according to AAA data.
A series of fires hit U.S. food processing facilities earlier this year, raising concerns that the attacks could be arson intended to hurt U.S. food supply amid global food insecurity due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Fact-checkers, however, have dismissed such concerns as conspiracy theories.