Photo courtsey of Bob Randall
ENNIS, Texas - The contractor, who works for R-Tex in Cleburne, was on top of an empty tanker at the U.S. Polyco plant using a blow torch. He was working to dismantle the tanker, which was damaged in a previous explosion back in February.
The Ennis Fire Marshal believes sparks from the torch either came into contact with either a flammable product or vapors -- sparking the explosion.
The blast set the adjacent tank on fire and knocked the contractor into the empty tank he was working on, tumbling 30 feet below. Firefighters ended up cutting a hole in the side of the tank and removed him from the ground on a stretcher. He was taken by ambulance to Parkland Hospital in Dallas. The fire marshal says he injured his leg and was conscious and alert when paramedics were working on him.
Firefighters worked quickly to keep the fire from spreading and causing other problems.
“Further investigation found that this fire had nothing to do with any kind of product transfer, it was general contractors doing the work. It was nothing involved with U.S. Polyco itself, so we believe it has nothing to do with the prior incident -- they are not related,” said Chad Wester, City of Ennis Fire Marshal.
This is the same asphalt plant that caught fire in February. Neighbors then reported hearing a loud boom and even felt their homes shake. No one was hurt in the February fire.
U.S. Polyco employees were evacuated for a few hours as a precaution, but the plant remains operational. The fire marshal says there is no environmental threat.