The 36-year-old Gillette man who died in October following an explosion and fire at an oil field site in Campbell County was a recent hire to the company with limited training, according to the Wyoming Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s preliminary narrative of events.
The state OSHA employees are still investigating the incident, but the fatal alert — a summary of initial facts and findings — notes a more formal training program and a reevaluation of the oil field site’s hazards for workers may be necessary for the employer. Significant factors in the fatality and recommendations from the state could change in the final report.
Beau Damori had worked for JCG LLC, the company that holds the permit for the disposal facility north of Gillette, for less than two weeks when the explosion occurred. He was working on the site on Oct. 31 with two roustabouts who were employed by the oil field services firm Tisdale Creek Ranch Inc. The three men had drawn water from a containment pit into a truck and were then emptying the water into a brining building — part of the process prior to injecting salty oil field water underground — according to the fatal alert.
Damori left the brining building, telling the others that he needed to check the heater treater unit. The other two men did not later recall what specifically Damori had gone to fix, but within two minutes of him leaving, they heard an explosion, according to the fatal alert.
The roustabouts left the building and the well site on its northeast side. They could see flames on the west side of the premises, where Damori had gone, the fatal alert states. A fire truck responding to the 911 call of a local landowner picked up the two roustabouts at a cattle guard and took them to Highway 59, where authorities then transported them to a nearby truck stop.
The fire following the explosion was intense and the proximity of propane gas tanks that could explode kept fire fighters back for some time. Once the Campbell County Fire Department had made a safe path to the site, the county coroner approached the scene. The coroner later said that Damori had likely died immediately after the explosion.
The fire was not fully contained until early in the morning the following day. The blaze had destroyed 10 large oil tanks, two vehicles, two semitrucks, three buildings and two large propane tanks on site.
The fatal alert notes that limited training for Damori might have been a “significant factor” in the event. The alert also notes that only one of the roustabouts had a gas monitor on their person and that there were multiple ignition sources at the facility, which uses and produces flammable and explosive gases. The facility did not return a call from the Star-Tribune by press time Thursday.
Wyoming OSHA attempts to complete and publish fatality investigations within 180 days. The final report has not been released to the public. A spokesman for the department said the investigation is ongoing.
Twenty workers died on the job in 2018, mostly in transportation. The most recent oil field death before the fatal October explosion outside Gillette occurred in 2014. Thirty seven workers died in Wyoming that year during a boom in the oil business.