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WATFORD CITY – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued serious safety violations to three companies after an investigation into a June flash fire at an oil well site near Watford City, which killed one worker and severely burned three others.

Following its investigation of the June 18 incident, OSHA issued citations to the well’s operator, XTO Energy, and the two servicing companies, Most Wanted Well Service and Sherwood Enterprises. Investigators determined that the employers failed to maintain well control, resulting in a release of hydrocarbons that caused the explosion and subsequent flash fire.

Johnny Stassinos, 52, of Rock Springs, Wyo., died from his injuries after falling during the incident. Three other workers were injured: Richard Maheu, 27, also of Rock Springs; Daniel Montes, 28, of Fruita, Colo.; and Justin Pyle, 40, of Grand Junction, Colo.

“Employers who are directly involved in well servicing operations must coordinate their actions to ensure well control is maintained at all times. Failing to do so can result in catastrophic consequences such as this case where one man lost his life and three others suffered debilitating burns,” said Eric Brooks, OSHA’s area director in Bismarck. “Communication between the host employer and all contractors is critical in working safely at any site.”

OSHA also found that Most Wanted Well Service failed to provide flame -retardant clothing to employees exposed to flash fire hazards. Workers for the servicing company were wearing non-flame-retardant rain gear as their outermost layer on the day of the incident, the OSHA citation states.

OSHA proposes $24,942 in fines for Most Wanted Well Service, based in Rock Springs. XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil, and Sherwood Enterprise, based in Big Piney, Wyo., each face a proposed fine of $12,471.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or contest the findings.

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