Explosion injures 2

By Brandon Evans | Published Thursday, July 15, 2010

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BLAST OFF - The explosion at a gas well site knocked over a massive tank battery in northern Wise County Tuesday. An emergency responder surveys the damage. Messenger photo by Andrew May

A tank battery exploded Tuesday afternoon and sent men sailing through the air in northern Wise County.

It occurred at a gas well site located off Farm Road 455, several miles west of Farm Road 51.

POWERFUL IMPACT - Wise County medics treat one of the three men knocked almost 20 feet through the air by an explosion at a gas well. One was sent to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Messenger photo by Andrew May

Firefighters from Greenwood/Slidell and Sanger fire departments arrived around 12:30 p.m. on the scene to find the tank crumpled and burned. The blast moved the massive metal tank several yards. The explosion covered nearby vehicles in oil and mud.

Two men were injured. One was transported to Denton Regional Hospital with first and/or second degree burns. The fire was quickly contained. Workers at the site extinguished the fire by the time fire trucks arrived.

The site was directly behind an Aruba Petroleum office. The site itself is owned by Gilbow Oil Field Services, a drilling fluid and tank truck company based in Bowie.

“Everybody is going to be all right,” said owner Jim Gilbow. “They could of all been dead. The impact knocked one big boy about 15 feet.”

Gilbow said it’s too early in the investigation to know how the explosion occurred. He did say the man sent to the hospital was a private contractor who was welding at the site.

Two Gilbow Oil Field Service employees standing nearby were knocked through the air by the blast. Neither were sent to the hospital.

The explosion roared across the rolling prairie.

“A company doing oil field work about a half mile across the pasture felt the explosion,” said Adam North, chief of Greenwood/Slidell Fire Department.

North said it appeared the explosion was caused when the electric welding arc ignited some fumes and blew up the canister.

“It’s a wonder we didn’t have anyone killed,” North said.

One witness said he heard a big boom and saw the long grass in the pasture flattened from the force of the blast.

Gilbow said they are working with investigators from the Texas Railroad Commission. They are also cleaning the site.

The tank probably contained a mixture of water, oil and gas. Gilbow said they’ve operated at the site for six years and have never experienced any problems there.

North said he expects the injured welder to be released soon, and the injuries were not life threatening.

The incident marks the second tank battery explosion in Wise County this year. A series of tank batteries exploded March 19 at a Devon well site west of Decatur, injuring two people.

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