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3 North Dakota oil well fires extinguished after 16 days

WATFORD CITY (AP) — Authorities say fires involving three oil wells in McKenzie County were brought under control over the weekend after they had burned for 16 days.

Crews put out the fire at the first well northeast of Watford City last Tuesday and extinguished the final well on Saturday, said Beth Babb, a spokesperson for Petro-Hunt, the company operating the well pad.

An inspector from the North Dakota Department of Environmental Quality was headed to the site to talk with personnel there and do a visual inspection, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

An early estimate Petro-Hunt provided the state indicated that 4,200 gallons of oil and 4,200 gallons of produced water spilled in the incident. Produced water is also known as brine or saltwater, and it comes up alongside oil and gas in wells.

State officials believe that any fluids that spilled either burned up or were contained.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the blaze began at one of the wells and then spread to the other two, all of which are on the same well pad. Bill Suess, who has worked for Environmental Quality since 2008, said he could not remember another oil well fire in North Dakota that burned for as long as this one.