MARSHALL — Ten families were evacuated Christmas day from homes within a one-mile radius of a well officials said had blown out and was releasing natural gas.

The families, including about two dozen people in all, were being offered rooms in a block reserved at Fairfield Inn in Marshall by Tanos Exploration Co., owner of the well, officials said Wednesday afternoon.

The well, about one-half mile from Blocker Road near New Road and Manning Road, continued to spew gas Wednesday evening.

Representatives from Tanos were on scene and had contacted Cudd Blowout Team of Houston, which was sending a crew from Houston to address the situation.

A blowout is an uncontrolled release of natural gas, or crude oil, from a well after pressure control systems have failed. Harrison County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Brandon Fletcher said Wednesday evening the cause of the Christmas day blowout was not yet known.

Authorities got word of the situation about 5:30 a.m. Wednesday, when the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office received a call that a Tanos well had blown out and was releasing natural gas.

Harrison County Deputies, Harrison County Fire Marshall’s Office, Elysian Field Fire and Emergency Services District 3 were dispatched to the scene.

Local authorities said blowout crews may ignite the gas, and there was a chance it could ignite itself. That’s why residents near the well were being evacuated.

Fletcher said Wednesday afternoon that 10 homes had to be evacuated with a total of 24 individuals. Sheriff’s deputies, fire marshal office personnel and Tanos employees assisted in the evacuations.

Blocker Road was open to through traffic, Fletcher said, but no one within the mile radius would be allowed to remain in their homes until the situation was controlled.