2 injured in oil facility explosion north of Van



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Posted on January 29, 2013 at 8:38 AM

Updated Wednesday, Jan 30 at 11:18 AM

Van oil facility explosion

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VAN –– A man and a woman were injured Tuesday morning in Van Zandt County when an oil storage tank exploded while the pair were smoking on top of it.

The explosion occurred just before 3 a.m. at an oil storage facility on State Highway 110 north of Van.

The victims, who are both 24, have been moved to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. The female is on life support and the male has burns to the face, arms, and chest.

"It sounded like a big bomb went off, it was pretty loud," said James Oliver, who was woken up by the explosion.

There are five major storage tanks on the property, two of which exploded. Firefighters were using a foam blanket to prevent the other tanks from catching fire and exploding. Van Zandt County Fire Marshal said he thought the victims may have smoked a cigarette nearby. 

"I don't think they had any idea of what they were actually exposing themselves to when they decided to climb up there and light a cigarette," Allen said. 

Because of the intense flames, crews allowed much of the fire to burn itself out. 

It's unclear which company owns the storage facility. The victims, who have not been identified, are not believed to be employees, however.  

It will likely take several days to clean up the area. Allen said the work would include trying to ensure that the area is environmentally safe. There is no threat of contaminating the drinking water.