Explosion started by Static Electricity
August 2, 2007
Sioux Center, Iowa
-- Static electricity was the cause of a massive fire that sent
one man to the hospital and forced the evacuation of about 2000
people from their homes in Sioux Center, Iowa.
According to officials the blast happened
when a tanker truck was unloading a flammable substance into a railroad
car Tuesday afternoon, when the truck exploded at the Farmers Co-op
Society. At least one of the 13 rail cars on the nearby track at
the time of the blast also contained some gasoline.
Lenore Prins heard the explosion from
her home about a block away. "First it was one, and then probably
three, four, five more," she said. "I looked out the window
and there was a lot of black smoke and fire."
Nearby residents reported seeing flames
shooting into the sky as high as 50 feet or more.
The Sioux Center Fire Department was call to the scene at 4:45 p.m.
Authorities ordered an evacuation of residents within a half-mile
of the site. No buildings were destroyed and the evacuation order
was canceled just before midnight said Fire Chief David Van Holland.
Authorities said that the unidentified driver of the truck was taken
to Mercy Medical Center in Sioux City and then was air lifted to
the St. Elizabeth Burn Center in Lincoln, Nebraska. No information
is available on the extent of his injuries.
The investigation by the state fire marchall's office found that
the fire was a result of flammable gasoline vapors being ignited
by static electricity.