Oil tank fire witness: 'I'm really amazed that anybody lived' - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Oil tank fire witness: 'I'm really amazed that anybody lived'

(Source: Viewer photo) (Source: Viewer photo)
SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

Two men are hospitalized with burns over half of their bodies, after a late night explosion of an East Texas oil tank battery.

The explosion happened around 10:30 Thursday night at an open field containing two oil tanks in the 22000 block of County Road 419 in Smith County, just south of Lindale.

As fire crews rushed to the scene, it was a first responder who heard the cries of the victims. The burned-out shell of the tank showed heat buckled metal, caused by a blast that turned the container into a roaring inferno.

The first responder to the scene was someone who lived nearby, who actually worked for the Smith County Fire Marshals Office.
 
"My deputy Fire Marshal Trey Glover contacted me this morning. It is out close to where he lives and he heard the explosion. He did drive up on it and found the fire," says Smith County Fire Marshal Connie Wasson.
 
"As he was assessing the fire, heard people calling for help back behind him," says Lindale Fire Department Spokesman Jerry Garner.

Fire marshals say 25-year-old Jeremy Hernandez and 30-year-old Aaron Archie, both locals and not oilfield employees, had gotten on the property
illegally.

Wasson says Glover found their car some distance away from the tank.

"And he did locate two male subjects in a vehicle," She says.

The enormous blast shook the home of Tim McLemee who lives a mile and a half away.
 
"First thing that came to mind is we must have had a plane go down. This was a very large explosion. I felt it and heard it. It literally rocked
the windows," Tim says.

The men were rushed to area hospitals, badly burned. Garner says it's the vapors around the oil that are volatile.
 
"In this particular tank, it didn't have a lot of crude in it, so we had a whole lot of vapor area," says Garner.
 
Investigators are looking into where the two men were at the time of the blast, and what they were doing. 

"I'm really amazed that anybody lived," McLemee says.

Both men were airlifted to Parkland Hospital in Dallas where fire marshals say they are listed in critical but stable condition. Fire marshals eventually want to talk to both of them.
 
Copyright 2017 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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