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The explosion was reported to Pittsburg County Emergency Management about 9 a.m. Monday, an emergency management dispatcher said.

"Pretty much everything that is on location is on fire", Enloe said. Morris said it remains under investigation. Several people are missing after a fiery explosion ripped through the eastern Oklahoma drilling rig, sending plumes of black smoke into the air and leaving a derrick crumpled onto the ground, an emergency official said.

A drilling rig near the small city of Quinton in eastern Oklahoma exploded about 8.45am yesterday, causing a fire that burned for hours.

A spokeswoman says the Oklahoma medical examiner's office wouldn't be able to confirm any fatalities until the fire is extinguished and investigators can get to the scene of the explosion.

The rig was owned by Patterson-UTI, a provider of drilling services to North American oil and gas companies.

About 22 people were working on the rig when the explosion occurred, officials told KJRH. It is unclear if crews were drilling for oil or natural gas.

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A primary explosion on one well head led to fires on three wells in last year's well incident, but Enloe said the two events had different circumstances.

Enloe said the crews will work to contain the fire and the well before state corporation commissioner and clean up companies get involved.

"We are not trying to spread water on it, and spread hazmat, because there are going to be contaminants on location", said Enloe.

Officials say the fire continues to burn, but it appears to be contained.

Five employees working on the rig are unaccounted for, Pittsburg County Sheriff Chris Morris told the McAlester News-Capital.