Six people were injured in an oil tank explosion Friday morning at an oil well storage facility on Virlilia Road in Flora.
“Two were transported by helicopter and four by ambulances,” said Minor Norman Madison County fire coordinator.
Norman said the two people transported by air ambulance were seriously injured.
The call came in at approximately 7:50 a.m. Friday and upon arrival, they learned a fiberglass oil tank with a capacity to hold approximately 33,000 gallons had exploded, Norman said.
“They had changed out two tanks and replaced them with new fiberglass tanks and one of the tanks this morning … had blown up and is no longer here,” Norman said.
Norman later told Darkhorse Press Mississippi Crime & Community News that the tanks did not have much fluid in them at the time of the explosion and that workers were “doing maintenance on two new parts that held water from an oil well. … One of those oil tanks exploded, creating a fire bomb.”
Three of the injured individuals were transported to the University of Mississippi Medical Center and three others were transported to Merit Health Central where the burn center is located, Norman said.
“UMMC is getting the three there stabilized to transfer to Merit Central because that’s where the burn center is,” Norman said.
A sign posted at the entrance to the property lists W.S. Red Hancock Inc. and a person who answered the phone at that company’s headquarters in Bentonia on Friday afternoon confirmed the facility where the explosion occurred was owned by the company but declined further comment.
Occupational Health and Safety Administration Compliance Officer Jermaine Davis confirmed Friday afternoon that OSHA had officers on the scene Friday afternoon investigating the incident. Davis did not have any further details on the incident.
First responders from Flora, Madison County, Gluckstadt, Kearney Park and the City of Madison responded to the scene, Norman said. The scene was under control at 9:02 a.m.
Late Friday morning vehicles and personnel for the Mississippi Oil and Gas Board, the state fire marshal, law enforcement and emergency first responders from the various agencies were working the scene and had blocked a road to the area where the explosion had occurred earlier that morning.
Norman said the investigation had been turned over to OSHA by 2 p.m. Friday.
Jess New, executive director of the Mississippi State Oil & Gas Board, said the state regulatory organization was still gathering information on the explosion Friday afternoon.
“We’re just doing our due diligence now and don’t want to say anything that’s inaccurate, and we’re deeply sad for the injuries sustained and hope to have more information shortly,” New said.