Gas well explodes, residents living nearby ordered to leave

ST. CLAIRSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Residents living within a mile of an Ohio natural gas well that exploded and caught fire can't return home until officials get it to stop spewing gas and brine.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources says the XTO Energy well in Belmont County's York Township exploded Thursday morning. No injuries have been reported.

XTO spokeswoman Karen Matusic says 24 employees were preparing the newly drilled well for production when the explosion occurred. Matusic says 36 homes had to be evacuated. XTO is a subsidiary of Irving, Texas-based ExxonMobil Corp.

Three producing wells on the same pad were shut down.

State officials say air and water air samples are being collected and that the Ohio and U.S. environmental protection agencies are taking measures to ensure residents' safety.