Two people were hurt yesterday afternoon when a recycling expansion tank exploded at the Mesa Oil plant in Belen, New Mexico.
Mesa Oil Tank Became Over Pressurized and Exploded
The August 18th explosion occurred shortly after noon at the Mesa Oil plant located at 20 Lucero Drive inside the Rio Grand Industrial Park. According to Belen Fire Chief Nicolas Moya, the tank became over-pressurized, exploded, and fell to the ground.
The blast sparked four small fires on different tower levels before firefighters could bring the situation under control. Debris from the explosion also caused minor damage to the roof of a building housing Airnov Healthcare Packaging, another facility located within Rio Grande Industrial Park.
“We were outside (on a break), and there was a loud crash. I looked up, and there it was (a structure at Mesa Oil) engulfed in flames. Just a big ball of fire,” one witness told the News-Bulletin. “It looked like something you would see in a movie. I could feel the heat on my face. It was huge.”
“They didn’t know what was going on,” the witness continued. “Some people said it shook the whole building. They thought something was coming down on top of it.”
Tower Fell on 1 Person, Another Suffered Burns
One person was hurt when the tower fell on them, and another suffered minor burns. Paramedics transferred both victims to a hospital in Albuquerque.
The recycling expansion tank was located atop a tower. According to Chief Moya, those operating the tower did not work for Mesa Oil. However, officials have yet to name their employer.
So far, it’s unclear what caused the tank to over-pressurize.
New Mexico State Police and environmental personnel were called in to evaluate the situation. Yesterday’s explosion remains under investigation.
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