No Need To Panic - This Fire Helps Keep Communities Safe

  • 9/10/2018 8:27:58 PM
  • Jesse Smith
  • Local News

MANSFIELD, OH - Several Mansfield residents and concerned citizens reported seeing a fire in the sky Monday afternoon, with flames on the horizon visible from US-30 and I-71. Citizens shouldn't be concerned, however - the fire was a planned and controlled event.

The flames came from what's known as a flare stack - a safety device for many oil and gas companies around the US. While flare stacks might look alarming from a distance, they help keep gas and oil productions safe by burning off excess fuel or getting rid of unsafe materials. There are several reasons why gas companies may choose to burn natural gas instead of collecting and storing it.

One reason is for the safety of the workers who may be trying to collect it in the first place. Natural gas contains hydrogen sulfide, which helps the gas burn. Sometimes, natural gas containing too much hydrogen sulfide becomes known as "sour gas," which can be dangerous to obtain and extract. Instead of trying to work around this hazard, workers can vent the gas and burn it off using the flare stack, converting it into other usable materials.

Another reason for burning the gas is to prevent it from becoming too pressurized. According to the American Gas Association, there are over 400 active underground gas storage facilities in 30 states. Natural gas is extremely flammable, and pressure levels are constantly monitored to make sure they're at safe levels. One way of releasing some of the pressure in these storage locations is to flare it, instead of trying to move the gas elsewhere.

Although this fire was intentional, members of the public are advised to always check with their local fire departments in case of an unreported emergency.

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