Specialized firefighters use wall of water to fight Prud'homme blaze

Specialized crews have managed to shut off the main source of the natural gas fire near Prud'homme.

Crews have been working more than 60 hours to put out the fire

A natural gas fire near Prud'Homme. (Submitted by Myles N. Biblow)

Specialized firefighters are using a wall of water as part of the strategy to put out the natural gas fire near Prud'homme, Sask. 

SaskEnergy called in a company called Safety Boss, known worldwide for their work putting out oilfield fires, to help with the blaze. It's the first time the Crown corporation has ever dealt with a fire like this. 

"When the wellhead is on fire there is no way that a municipal fire department can put water on that and have the fire go out," explained SaskPower spokesperson Dave Burdeniuk. "You have to stop the gas supply, that's why we turned to Safety Boss who have put out oil and gas fires all over the world." 

"We know they had the expertise in doing this."

According to Donald Keenan, who teaches emergency training at Lakeland college, natural gas fires can last for days and burn twice as hot as a house fire.

But he said the most important part of fighting a fire like this one is identifying what can go wrong. 

"I used to teach my students that identifying the hazards is equivalent of removing 50 per cent of it," Keenan said.

"The ones that get you are the ones you don't anticipate."

Fire crews, with help from SaskEnergy engineers, were able to cap the main source of the natural gas fuelling the fire. There is still one more smaller source that needs to be closed. 

Burdeniuk said they hope to have the fire completely out soon, but it all depends on how soon they can get the lid back on the other leak in the cavern. 

In the meantime, the families forced to leave their homes on Saturday were able to return Tuesday, but the area is still blocked to the public. 

with files from CBC's Madeline Kotzer