MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

May 8, 2013

Eufaula blast leaves 2 hurt

Sandblasting propane tanks cited as cause

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— EUFAULA — An explosion Tuesday at a Eufaula business seriously injured two employees and left area residents and students scrambling.

The explosion, which happened at Ford Sandblasting Company, was reported at 12:29 p.m., said McIntosh County Emergency Management Director Wesley Dawson.

Ford Sandblasting Company is located on Oklahoma 9, west of Coon Creek Road and U.S. 69.

Dawson said employees were sandblasting and painting propane tanks inside the building when the explosion occurred. The damage was consistent with a propane explosion, though the cause won’t be known for sure until the investigation is completed, he said.

The building’s roof appeared to have partially collapsed as the explosion “punched the walls out,” Dawson said.

More propane tanks were inside the building but didn’t explode, Dawson said.

Two employees, whose names were not released, were flown to a Tulsa hospital with “pretty serious burns,” Dawson said. Their condition was unavailable Tuesday.

A third employee was in the building, but was uninjured.

Dawson said neighbors reported hearing one explosion, followed by another louder explosion. A house nearby the building was undamaged, though its residents had been evacuated. Eufaula Middle School and Eufaula Elementary School were emptied as well. Those campuses are located just east of the explosion.

“We actually did a drill there last week for a fire, followed by an explosion,” Dawson said. “And here we are, what, four days later, doing it for real.”

Members of the Eufaula Police Department, McIntosh County Sheriff’s Office, Oklahoma Highway Patrol, Eufaula Fire Department, Hanna Fire Department, Vivian Fire Department and Texanna Fire Departments assisted with the cleanup.

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or dgoforth@muskogeephoenix.com.