Explosion, power outages during Mac County storm

By Diane Frazier
McPherson Sentinel – June 19, 2017

Photo by Diane Frazier. Click on photo to view full-size.

Thursday evening was a long night for emergency personnel and public works employees alike.

A severe thunderstorm sped through McPherson County Thursday evening, leaving large hail, fallen tree limbs and heavy rain behind it.

“The damage wasn’t too severe — a lot of the storm passed over us,” said McPherson County Sheriff Jerry Montagne.

Northeast of McPherson, lightning struck an oil tank battery, causing an explosion that could be felt two miles away.

“This was a heck of a deal. It blew the tank probably 80 feet up and all the other tanks were on fire. It was quite a deal to see all those tanks on fire at once,” said Wayne Williams, chief of the Galva Fire Department. “A lot of times the lighting will strike one tank and it will burn, then we can put that tank out so it doesn’t heat and blow another tank up.”

The oil tank, located at 18th Avenue and Mohawk Road, was monitored by Galva, McPherson and Canton fire departments.

“The crude oil product in the tanks was low, so there wasn’t a lot there to burn. When it blew up, we let it burn out and didn’t put any water on it at all,” Williams said. “If there had been more oil in there, we’d have had to put foam on it to put it out, but it was the best possible scenario for this situation.”

Though the explosion occurred in a wheat field, the wheat had already been cut so there was no damage to crops.

“There was no crop damage and it happened during the rain. We’d had at least an inch and a half to two inches of rain already, so there was no way the wheat stubble would burn because there was so much moisture. The oil tanks were the only things that were damaged.”


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
KSFFA’s Fire News Blog Home Page

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