Several rural Winfield residents heard and felt the massive blast of an oil tank battery exploding early Wednesday morning southeast of town.
Kevin McClung’s home security camera caught the explosion from about three miles away.
Adam Andes, who lives fairly close to the tank battery, recorded the giant fire raging from across the road. Watch the video online at www.ctnewsonline.com.
The Winfield Fire/EMS Department posted this statement on social media regarding the situation: “Our crews responded at 2:41 a.m. to a fire on 192nd Road east of Winfield. Individuals who called 911 reported hearing multiple explosions. Upon arrival, our firefighters found a large oil tank battery heavily involved with fire. Crews worked to extinguish fire, which extended beyond the containment berm and began to address extinguishing the fire. Due to a lack of water and multiple oil tanks showing signs of potential failure at one point, personnel temporarily backed out and allowed the fire to burn for a while.
“Arkansas City, Atlanta, Burden, Cambridge and Dexter fire departments assisted at the scene. A truck from Holly Frontier Refinery, of El Dorado, also responded to provide additional foam to help extinguishing the fire. Douglass, Mulvane and Belle Plaine fire departments were requested to respond with additional tanker trucks to supplement the water supply.”
Fire crews remained at the fire throughout Wednesday morning to prevent the spread, especially since Cowley County was under a red flag warning with 53 mph wind gusts reported by the National Weather Service.
Most units retired from the scene around 9:30 a.m., Winfield Fire Chief Vince Warren said. Two oil tanks were destroyed and two remain intact, with no cause determined at this point, Warren said.
The WFD provided additional information on the foam that is sprayed during certain fires — oil-based (hydrocarbon) fires of any size require a special foam to extinguish. It is typically a 3-percent foam, 97-percent water mixture that basically forms a blanket over the top of the product and essentially smothers the fire. There is also specialty foam for alcohol-based (i.e. ethanol) fires. It contains a polymer that forms a membrane on top of the fuel that the foam sits atop. Otherwise, the alcohol would leach the water out of the foam since alcohol and water readily mix.
Winfield and Burden fire departments were called back to the area late Wednesday afternoon for another grass fire. The first fire responder on scene said a couple of acres were burning, according to radio communications. Winfield firefighters were able to control the burn quickly and Burden firefighters were able to return to their station.