Candlelight vigil held for Warren native missing after gas well fire

A Warren man is missing in a natural gas well fire in Greene County, south of Pittsburgh.

Thursday night, approximately 40 friends of Ian McKee held a candlelight vigil at Betts Park, praying for his safe return.

McKee works for Cameron International, a sub-contractor to Chevron which owns the well site.

He graduated from Warren Area High School in 2004, and currently lives in Morgantown, W.Va., with his girlfriend, Danielle Desposito, according to Melissa Almendinger of Warren.

Almendinger said at the vigil that McKee’s mother, stepfather and sister still live in Warren.

Almendinger said she organized the vigil for “my best friend and the godfather of my son.”

Drew Gray posted information on Facebook for McKee’s friends.

Almendinger said she has been in continuous contact with Desposito, who updates her on everything she hears from Chevron, including a call during the vigil.

Almendinger didn’t know what McKee’s job title is, but said that he checks the gauges on the wells.

“The last time he was home was Christmas 2012, but he has been trying to come back for a visit,” she said.

She said when the fire first occurred, Chevron set up a two-mile perimeter, and when Wild Well Control, a Houston-based firm came in, its crew couldn’t get closer that a half mile because of the heat.

“Today, they moved a few trucks away, and they are working to remove a crane,” she said.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported Thursday that the fire had gone out several times on its own, only to re-ignite when gas reached super-heated metal, and removing that metal was part of the strategy to extinguish the fire.

The fire, which began before 7 a.m. Tuesday, was being fueled by gas from two of the three Marcellus Shale wells on the pad.