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Oilfield worker recovering after well fire

An Odessa oilfield worker injured in a fire Tuesday at a Ward County well site remained in critical condition Thursday at a Lubbock Hospital.

Ward County Sheriff Mikel Strickland, who responded to the fire at about 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, identified the man as Juan Renteria and said he was the most severely injured during the blaze, which was also described as an explosion.

The well site was about 15 miles west of Pyote, of FM 2355, according to the sheriff. Law enforcement and company officials said Thursday the cause of the fire remained unclear.

Renteria works for Viva Energy Services, based in Odessa, company president Bob Murray confirmed by phone on Thursday. Murray said he was with the injured worker, in his 30s, at the Lubbock hospital.

“He’s been a very, very good employee,” Murray said. “And we are wishing and hoping and praying we get him back on his feet soon and then learn from this.”

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration was investigating the fire, according to a representative of the agency who declined further comment.

Murray declined to discuss specifics of the fire, citing the ongoing investigations. But Murray did say “we don’t know the source yet” of the fire.

In related news, Victim in Mead well site accident died from a blunt force head injury.

Strickland said another Viva employee also suffered injury. Murray said that employee was treated and released from an area hospital the day of the accident.

Renteria was one of four Viva employees working on location, Murray said.

But several other contractors were on site at the time of the fire, and Murray said a worker for a different company was also injured.

Strickland described the accident as “just a flash fire apparently.” Nearby volunteer fire departments, including Wickett’s, responded to the blaze.

“It was still going when we got there,” the sheriff said.

Calls to the Wickett Volunteer Fire Department went unreturned on Thursday.

Murray said that during his five years as president, the company never had an employee injured in a fire at work or injured as severely as Renteria, who was flown by helicopter to the Lubbock hospital.

“Whatever we can learn from this to share, I’m all for that,” Murray said.

Contact Corey Paul on Twitter @OAcrude on Facebook at OA Corey Paul or call 432-333-7768.

This article was written by Corey Paul from Odessa American, Texas and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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