News of Riverton, Lander and Fremont County, Wyoming, from the Ranger's award winning journalists.
Two workers suffer minor burns in oil tank blaze
Dec 6, 2012 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer
Two people suffered minor burns Wednesday afternoon when one or more oil tanks reportedly caught fire off of Muskrat Road east of Riverton.
County fire officials said the injured people were energy company employees who had been working near the storage tanks when the fire broke out just before 2 p.m. Wednesday.
"They did receive some very minor burn injuries, flash burn injuries," Fremont County Fire Protection District deputy chief Dan Oakley said Thursday, adding that the men were treated on scene by emergency medical personnel.
Oakley said about 500 barrels of oil burned in the blaze, which witnesses said could be seen from downtown Riverton. A fire that size is too big to be extinguished using local resources, so Oakley said his team monitored the flames to make sure the fire did not spread outside of the energy company's safety barriers.
"Those fires require a whole lot more water than we have available out there," Oakley said. "We watch until it burns the product enough that the company is comfortable with us leaving."
He cleared the scene at about 4:45 p.m. Oakley said the energy company responsible for the incident had shut the area down so no new oil was being fed to the tanks, but he guessed the scene was still smoldering Thursday morning.
Private investigators will look into the incident, but Oakley said in his opinion the fire was accidental. He described the air over an energy production field as "pretty combustible" because of the nature of the products being stored in the area. In addition, he said the oil tanks were being kept warm by some type of heater.
"It could have been the right mixture of combustible gas and air that got to wherever this heater was," Oakley said.
Initial reports show Trihydro Corporation employees who were stationed about a mile away from the fire called dispatchers wondering if they should evacuate the area. Oakley was unaware of any evacuations taking place Wednesday.