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Gillette fire

A fire at an oilfield site north of Gillette burns on Oct. 31. Authorities believe a 36-year-old worker died shortly after the explosion and subsequent fire at the facility.

Authorities believe Beau Damori, a 36-year-old oilfield worker, died shortly after an Oct. 31 explosion and fire at a facility north of Gillette.

Damori was working with two roustabouts on the Tisdale Creek Ranch facility north of Gillette. The men were emptying a pit and preparing water for an injection well — a deep well used to dispose of water produced from oil and gas development — according to the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services.

Damori had walked away from the other workers to the knockout/heater treater building when the explosion occurred, according to the Department of Workforce Services. Information on the exact location of the building on the site and its distance from the other workers was not immediately available.

Wyoming OSHA is conducting an investigation into the cause of the explosion and considering whether the companies involved are responsible for any safety violations related to the event. The result could take up to six months to be made public. The family will be provided with the results before they are published.

The day of the explosion, Campbell County coroners arrived at the scene — a water processing and injection site about a half-mile from Highway 59 — at approximately 5 p.m., three hours after a local rancher called in the fire.

The fire was intense, and the risk of further explosions due to propane tanks on site delayed the coroners from retrieving Damori’s body.

When firefighters had cleared a safe path for the coroners to approach, flames still burned within two feet of the body, said Steve Rosier, chief deputy coroner, who was on the scene that day.

“This wasn’t like a little fire that started … this was an explosion and I think when (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) gets (its investigation) done, that will kind of tell the tale,” Rosier said.

The cause of death is the explosion and subsequent blaze, Rosier added, noting that experts examine for other causes of injury or evidence of foul play.

“Our goal is to provide the family with every answer we possibly can,” Rosier said. “At the end of the day, they are the ones that have to carry on with their lives and they have a lot of questions.”

Officials were able to identify Damori due to a medical apparatus in his ankle from a surgery years ago, according to Rosier.

Damori was an employee of JCG LLC. The two roustabouts were employees of Tisdale Creek Ranch Inc.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze by 1 a.m. on Nov. 1. Damage was extensive, including 10 large oil tanks, two passenger vehicles, two semi-trucks, three buildings, two full 1,700-gallon propane tanks and brush and grass near the site, according to Fire Warden Dale Izatt.

The last oil field death from an explosion on the job occurred four years ago. A 35-year-old man died while cleaning a natural gas storage tank in 2014. Also that year, a 52-year-old welder died in an explosion in an oil reclamation tank, according to state records. Thirty seven people died on the job in 2014, the tail-end of the most recent boom in oilfield development. It was the highest workplace fatality year in the last decade.

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Follow energy reporter Heather Richards on Twitter @hroxaner


Energy Reporter

Heather Richards writes about energy and the environment. A native of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, she moved to Wyoming in 2015 to cover natural resources and government in Buffalo. Heather joined the Star Tribune later that year.

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