Oklahoma Chemical Plant Rocked by Fire and Explosions

Late in the night on September 19, 2013, roaring flames and explosive fireballs rocked the Danlin Industries chemical plant in Thomas, Oklahoma. Officials are still investigating the scene to determine the cause of this catastrophic non-fatal chemical plant accident. According to reports, a fire at the plant broke out after 10 p.m. Thursday. Fortunately, the plant’s workforce of 75 had left the complex earlier in the evening, so no one was on-site when the fire started. Although the plant burned to the ground, the timing of this accident helped save dozens of people from suffering burns and potentially fatal injuries from explosions that continued through the night. Danlin Industries operates a sophisticated chemical plant and laboratory that serves the oil and gas industry. The company has been based in the small town of Thomas for nearly 20 years and is an active supporter of community schools and events. Unfortunately, when a petrochemical plant accident occurs, the lives of residents who depend on large companies for jobs are threatened. Although the cause of this particular chemical plant explosion has not been determined, industrial accidents are often caused by corporate negligence, improper training and hazardous conditions that were never corrected. The Dangers of Industrial Accidents In this case, families within a four-mile radius of the plant had to be evacuated. However, if the accident had occurred during the day, the outcome could have been much different. Thomas is a rural Oklahoma farming town with a population around 1,000. Even so, dozens of families, workers and emergency personnel were in danger. Conditions inside the plant even prevented firefighters from attempting to extinguish the blaze. Because Danlin Industries serves clients in the energy industry, nearly all of the chemicals in the plant were highly flammable. Emergency management officials explained that the heat caused sealed containers of flammable chemicals to explode, which created a series of massive fireballs that were launched more than 100 feet into the air. Multiple explosions lit the sky as the fire raged through the building. According to officials, hydrocarbons burn at extreme temperatures. These conditions created a fire hot enough to melt the Danlin building and reduce it to 18 inches of smoldering ash by the morning. This type of scenario is not just dangerous for residents and emergency personnel. Even though the fire incinerated all of the chemicals, officials are still worried about environmental contamination in the air and soil, which could be exacerbated by rain. Although Danlin Industries lost its state-of-the-art lab,  their fleet of vehicles and chemical production facilities, thankfully, this industrial plant explosion was not as bad as most in terms of injuries and fatalities. Industrial Injuries When compared to the recent fertilizer plant explosion in the Texas town of West or the 2005 Texas City refinery explosion, the incident in Thomas, Oklahoma, was not as deadly, but many people were still endangered. While safety improvements in other industries have helped reduce work-related fatalities, this has not been the case in the gas and oil industry. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the industry had the highest rate of worker deaths in the past decade. In fact, work-related fatalities increased by 23 percent last year. When people handle dangerous chemicals, it is imperative for everyone to use the best and safest practices. Unfortunately, companies often ignore workplace safety, maintenance and workers’ health. When companies are negligent, industrial accidents and fatalities are much more likely to occur. Wrongful death lawsuits and personal injury cases involving explosions and industrial accidents often involve complex procedures to determine the cause of the accident and hold the company responsible. If you or a family member has been injured, contact an experienced refinery accident attorney to discuss your case and help you recover compensation for medical expenses and lost wages.