The freshly drilled oil wells have brought cash and controversy to Saline Township. They’ve also altered scenery that doesn’t change very often.
When the leaves fell off the trees this fall, they revealed bright, flickering flames from the oil wells’ gas flares. As a result, the Saline Area Fire Department has made about 10 extra runs to Saline Township over the last few weeks.
“When the leaves fell off the trees, we got calls from people who thought they saw fire for three or four days in a row. As people have gotten used to it, we’re getting less calls. We’ve probably had about 10 and we still get one or two a week,” said Craig Hoeft, Saline Fire Chief.
One flare is located near Arkona and Goodrich roads. The other is on Braun Road near the township hall.
Hoeft said Paxton Resources, which operates the wells, has put up a structure that obscures the view at the Braun Road location. A similar structure will be installed at the Arkona Road gas flare later this month, Hoeft said.
“We hope that less people see the flames and call the fire department,” Hoeft said. “Paxton Resources has been very cooperative and they are working to alleviate the problems.”
The fire department responds to every call, Hoeft said, even then the firefighters’ are fairly certain the call is from someone who mistook the flare for a field fire.
“You never know. So we’ll send out one truck with a couple of guys,” Hoeft said.
It’s a potential problem, because firefighters could en route to the false alarm in the township when an emergency occurs.
The fire department doesn’t want to discourage people from calling, but it would like people to be aware of the flares in the township, Hoeft said.
Hoeft said the fire department invoices Paxton Resources for the false alarm. Hoeft said the fire department invoices other businesses that have reported multiple false alarms.
“It’s not really about the money. Sending out the invoice tends to encourage people solve those problems a little quicker,” Hoeft said.