Tank Blast at Wash. Plant Produces More Noise than Damage

Workers were using torches to cut into an empty storage tank.


June 24--YAKIMA, Wash. -- A fuel storage tank slated for disposal at the Pacific Steel and Recycling plant exploded Monday afternoon, creating a loud boom heard around Terrace Heights.

Luckily, no one was hurt in the blast, said East Valley Fire Chief Mike Riel.

The explosion occurred just before 3 p.m. as workers were trying to dismantle a large underground storage tank by cutting into the metal, which created sparks.

"It was considered to be empty, but sometimes there is still some residue," Riel said. "The fumes and air mixed with the sparks made like a big cannon and shot the lid right off the tank."

The lid, located on the tank's side, landed almost 200 feet away, Riel said.

The employee who had been cutting into the tank was working off to the side from the lid. He was shaken up, but not hurt, Riel said.

The blast produced a lot of smoke because of the carbon residue in the tank, but not a large fire, so firefighters were able to put it out quickly.

Firefighters were actually headed to a house fire when they saw the smoke coming from the scrap yard at Pacific Steel and Recycling, Riel said. Another engine crew put out that fire, which occurred in the home's bedroom.

"We pulled in as they were calling 911," Riel said. "I think they were happy to see us."

Copyright 2014 - Yakima Herald-Republic, Wash.