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Safety officers: Workers at Lost Cabin plant were replacing valve

Aug 24, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Wyoming Workers' Safety compliance officers reported this week that a valve was open at the time of a Wednesday explosion that burned four employees of the mechanical contracting firm Altair Strickland.

"The contractors were replacing a valve," said Hayley Douglas with WWS. "However, another valve was open at the time and a gas leak ignited, causing a gas flare."

The ignition source is not known at this time, Douglas said, but officers will continue to make reports as they investigate the incident. She confirmed that the explosion took place during a "turnaround," or a planned, periodic, total or partial shut-down of a processing unit or plant to perform maintenance.

Altair Strickland officials said some of their workers suffered second- and third-degree burns as a result of the blast. Two of the victims were flown directly to the Western States Burn Center in Greeley, Colo. An additional air ambulance from Pinedale was also dispatched to the area to pick up a third victim in Shoshoni. From there he was flown to the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, then to the burn center in Greeley, Colo. The fourth man was driven by ground ambulance to Riverton Memorial Hospital.

ConocoPhillips officials said the explosion extinguished itself immediately and did not involve production gas. The Lost Cabin plant is reportedly secure and has been evacuated, and all personnel have been accounted for.

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