, Muskogee, OK

May 9, 2013

Two hurt in blast in critical condition

Workers are in Hillcrest burn unit in Tulsa

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Two men injured in a Eufaula business explosion remained in critical condition Wednesday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Michael Cox and Don Hamilton, employees with Ford Sandblasting Company, are being treated in Hillcrest Medical Center’s Alexander Burn Unit in Tulsa. They were injured about 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the explosion at the building, which is located on Oklahoma 9, west of Coon Creek Road and U.S. 69.

McIntosh County Emergency Management Director Wesley Dawson said the damage to the building was consistent with a propane explosion. Three employees, Cox, Hamilton and an uninjured third person, were in the building during the explosion. Employees were sandblasting and painting propane tanks when the explosion happened, Dawson said. Other propane tanks were inside the building, and more than a dozen were located outside, though none of those exploded.

Eufaula Mayor Selina Jayne-Dornan said multiple agencies were looking into the explosion. Because it would be a lengthy investigation, Jayne-Dornan said she wanted to focus on the victims.

“We’re just concerned for the employees,” Jayne-Dornan said. “We’re hoping for a quick recovery.”

Investigators are trying to determine what caused the blast. Spokesmen for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration as well as the Oklahoma Propane Gas Association said both agencies are looking into the explosion.

Bill Glass, an administrator with the Oklahoma Propane Gas Association, said their investigation would include interviews with both injured men.

“You’ve got some serious injuries, and those people will need to be talked to,” Glass said.

The investigation by the Oklahoma Propane Gas Association would entail discovering “what happened, how it happened and why it happened.”

“Once the investigation is done, if there are fines involved, then the people who are fined can contest the fines,” Glass said.

Dawson said residents who lived near the building reported hearing one small explosion followed by at least one more louder explosion. Ford Sandblasting Company is in a fairly remote area, though there is a house nearby. Eufaula Middle School and Eufaula Elementary School, which were evacuated following the explosion, are just east. No residences reported any injuries or damage, Dawson said.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or