Five missing in Oklahoma gas well fire now presumed dead, including Texas man

PITTSBURG COUNTY, Okla. - A natural gas well explosion in Oklahoma created a fiery inferno on Monday and left five oil rig employees missing.

"At this time, we have moved from a rescue mission to a recovery mission," Pittsburg County, Oklahoma Sheriff Chris Morris announced on Tuesday.

"We have searched the surrounding area and have not found anybody at this time," Pittsburg County Emergency Management Director Kevin Enloe declared at a press conference late Monday.

One of the five workers is identified as Josh Ray, 35, from Fort Worth, Texas.

Seventeen other employees were rescued following the flaming explosion.

"Not knowing where the five men missing are is just devastating and I feel so bad for their families," witness Brittany Scheutz shared.

The gas well was drilled by Patterson UTI Energy, a company based in Houston and it's still unclear whether the crew was actively drilling for oil or natural gas.

"Everything is contained to the wellhead," Enloe said on Monday. "The gas that is burning out of the wellhead right now is safe because it's burning."

Officials had to let the fire slowly die down before they could contain the blaze and cap the well.

"The medical examiner's office has been contacted by myself," Morris said. "They are waiting on the scene to cool down and be stabilized before we can go in and continue our investigation."

"When a tragedy happens everybody comes together, you know and pulls for everybody else," another witness, Tina Rhodes, said.

"Hearts and prayers go out to the families," Morris told reporters at his press conference.

The company has pledged a full investigation into the explosion, but now one of the victims' wives has reportedly retained a lawyer.

All that's left now is a smoldering well and a lot of questions over lost loved ones.