Cause of explosion at Flora disposal site under investigation

Cause of explosion at Flora disposal site under investigation


FLORA — Authorities are still unsure what caused an explosion at an oil well storage facility near here last Friday morning that resulted in six people suffering serious burns.

The six people suffered burns over at least 50 percent of their bodies, with one being burned from head to toe, Minor Norman, the Madison County Fire Coordinator, told The Associated Press.

One of the four men injured has been released, the authorities said.

Four people were airlifted from the explosion on land near the Salt Water Disposal Site off of Virlilia Road near Kearney Park, Madison County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman Heath Hall said.

“There were four storage tank facilities to hold products from oil wells. They (the workers) were in the process of changing out two tanks with new fiberglass tanks. They were getting ready to go into service when the older tank exploded."

The injured are employees of W.S. Red Hancock, a Mississippi-based “welding and fabrication” company.

Hall said the call came in at 7:45 a.m. and that he does not know how long first responders were on the scene but noted they were able to “get the fire out quickly.” 

He said two men were transported to University Mississippi Medical Center and another two were transported to the Merit Health burn unit in Madison County.

Injuries were described as smoke inhalation and burns. Hall confirmed that one victim has been released from the hospital.

The Flora Fire Department assisted in the fire supression and patient care of a saltwater well explosion in Kearney Park, a statement from the fire department said. 

FFD was able to assist in loading patients into ambulances to get them to the hospital. They were also able to assist in the fire extinguishment of the explosion and contain it to one tank. 

OSHA is investigating the incident.

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