One man is in serious but stable condition in a San Antonio hospital after an oil field explosion in Karnes City Tuesday morning.
The accident happened around 5 a.m., when a group of salt water containers and diesel tanks exploded on private property located on Highway 80, just one mile north of the town of Gillett, according to the Karnes County emergency contract coordinator.
The well site is operated by Gulf Coast Acquisitions of Refugio, Texas. Of the 10 tanks on site, nine were destroyed in the blast.
The fire is now out and the investigation into what caused the blaze is underway. Local, state and federal authorities are now sifting through what is left behind to figure out what went wrong.
Karnes County Sheriff Dwayne Villanueva told YNN the fire broke out when an oil field worker was performing a safety check on top of some of the tanks.
Investigators believe static electricity started a chain reaction, leaving significant damage in its wake.
“One of the tanks exploded,” Villanueva said. "The good thing is area fire departments got there and as soon as they got there, they had it under control.”
The explosion knocked off a worker on a ladder that connected a series of 10 salt water and oil tanks.
Villanueva says volunteer firefighters saved the victim's life, pulling the injured man to safety before the blast leveled nine of the 10 large containers.
"They are the ones who put their lives in danger,” Villanueva said. “They are the one who went on site."
The oil field worker suffered burns to 20 to 30 percent of his body.
Tuesday's explosion is a startling reminder of the oil boom now taking place in the Eagle Ford Shale in South Texas.
Sheriff Villanueva said he thinks about 10 people have died in oil field accidents in Karnes County, this year alone.
Photos from John Salazar on the scene:
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