05 25 2015

Two Injured In Oil Tank Explosion

By Julie Vaughan
Two people were seriously injured in an oil storage tank explosion north of Van on State Highway 110 early Tuesday morning.
Van Zandt County Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said a man and woman, both 24 years of age, were seriously injured when they lit a cigarette while walking the catwalk of an oil storage tank.
“They were both transported to Parkland Hospital in Dallas with burns to their face, head, chest and arms,” Allen said.
The Van Fire Department was the first on the scene along with Allen. They were assisted by Grand Saline, Lindale and Tyler fire departments. Also assisting was the Tyler Fire Department Haz Mat (hazardous material) team.
Allen commented the best way to get an oil fire under control is by using a special foam which most fire departments have, but Haz Mat teams carry in larger amounts.
A 9-1-1 call came in just before 3 a.m. with the report of “an explosion and fire at a oil storage facility,” Allen said.
The two victims were taken by EMS to ambulance to East Texas Medical Center in Tyler and then transported on to Parkland Memorial in Dallas by ground EMS.
Allen said after speaking with the male victim at the hospital he stated “they lit a cigarette and it exploded.”
The barrels, which contain 400 barrels of oil each, were all full at the time of the explosion.
The fire ended up completely destroying three 400 barrel storage vessels.  Three other 400 barrel storage vessels were damaged in the fire.
At around 9:35 a.m., the fire was completely extinguished and all fire departments were relieved of the scene.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the Texas Railroad Commission remained on scene at press time, to ensure clean up.
There was a breach in the tank dike Allen said, “which resulted in a small amount of salt water and raw crude oil making its way into a small creek.”
“The creek has been boomed and the effects are extremely limited as a result of quick thinking and response of the fire department,” Allen said.
The operator of the storage facility is Three Folks Operating Company, L.L.C. from Flatonia.
“Crude oil is as flammable as gasoline or diesel,” Allen said.
The incident is still under investigation and the names of the victims were still not being released as of press time. Allen said the female victim remained on life support.

Photo by Julie Vaughan
Three oil storage tanks exploded early Tuesday morning on Farm-to-Market 110 just north of Van Zandt County Road 1507 leaving two people seriously injured. Fire Marshal Chuck Allen said the pair was trespassing, walking up the catwalk of the tank, when they lit a cigarette causing one tank to explode.

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