Gas leak sparks fear in Fox Township residents

The Penfield Fire Department reported being called out to Boone Mountain Road in Fox Township Sunday evening by residents concerned with what they thought was a gas well explosion. Deputy Fire Chief Shawn Agosti said there was no explosion, but rather a cap had blown off of a leaking pressure release valve on a cleaning tank belonging to EOG. Resources, Inc. Chief Tom Olewnick said the incident was caused by gas venting off from a pressure buildup in the tank, located behind camps lining the north side of Boone Mountain Road. Chief Olewnick said that there were no vehicles parked at the camps, and because the area was so remote the fire department did not order an evacuation. "This thing is a mile down in the woods behind these camps," he said. The fire department reported receiving the call at 7:07 p.m. Sunday night. The Fox Township Volunteer Fire Department was also called. While the pipeline is located in Huston Twp., Clearfield County, the affected cleaning tank is located in Fox Township, Elk County. Laura Flanders, a resident of 292 Boone Mountain Rd., said at first she heard a high-pitched whistling sound coming from the woods behind the camps across the road. "It sounded like a jet plane crashing down or a tractor trailer out of control. The sound just kept getting louder," Flanders said. She said one of her neighbors called 911 and that her other neighbors decided to pack up and leave for a time. Olewnick did say that if the leak had found an ignition source, the problem could have been much worse. "Before any of this Marcellus Shale started, we've had blow-offs like this," he said. "Ten years ago, we evacuated some houses along [state Route] 255 because of one."