2 workers injured in oil tank explosion, fire in La Salle County

Explosion reported at energy industry site between Millett, Dilley

By David Ibanez - Web - Managing Editor , Jessie Degollado - Reporter

LA SALLE COUNTY, Texas - Two people were injured Tuesday morning in an explosion and fire at an energy industry site in La Salle County.

La Salle County Sheriff's Office spokesman Marc Robertson said the victims were transported by air ambulance to San Antonio. He said the victims being airlifted to a hospital "should not be interpreted as injuries having been severe or life-threatening." Brad Fischer, Chief Operating Officer, of Carrizo Oil & Gas, which owns the tanks, said the victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries. 

Robertson said the incident was reported around 10:50 a.m. at the Ledwig Ranch between Millett and Dilley.

He said he "felt" the explosion from his office in the LaSalle County Courthouse, which is 16 miles away.

"It was more like a rumbling that went on for a couple of seconds," he said. 

Video Courtesy: David Gonzalez @gonzalez361

Robertson said when fire crews arrived, they found several oil storage tanks fully engulfed in flames. He said it appeared "an initial blast at the scene had extinguished itself and that peripheral fires remained."

Firefighters allowed the fire to die down and created an exclusion area of a quarter-mile mile around the tanks.

A new tank was being built where the explosion and fire occurred, but no residual oil was believed to have been in the tank.

Robertson said La Salle County emergency officials have an open line of communication with the oil and gas companies in the area.

"So that when something occurs, we're prepared and our firefighters are ready to go and know what to expect when they get to the scene," he said. 

Robertson said it's especially important to know who was on site, so they can account for everyone. 

He said La Salle fire and rescue personnel are trained  to deal with such incidents.

"It was quite obvious we would need training in responding to industry-related fires rather than brush fires," Robertson said.

He said an increase in activity in Eagle Ford Shale country "increases the probability that accidents will happen."

Robertson said tank fires are fairly common, but often in more remote areas so the public is often unaware they happened.

He said another tank explosion two weeks ago at another site, blew a piece of debris onto a nearby farm-to-market road.

The Texas Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality will help local fire officials determine a cause.

No residential areas or schools were evacuated.

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