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Authorities Investigate Oil Battery Explosion

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COTTON COUNTY, Okla. - Authorities search for answers Monday after an explosion Sunday night at an oil battery in Cotton County injured three men and left behind a trail of damage.

The explosion happened around six, just northeast of Walters.

Witnesses described a loud explosion that sent a ball of flames into the air, igniting a grassfire that quickly spread.

Several fire departments worked to put out the fire, while first responders tended to the three men burned during the explosion.

People driving by Monday were shocked by just how much damage had been done.

The oil battery's owner said that it was hard for him to stay back and watch the scene unfold, but as he surveyed the damage Monday, a finding of some key evidence might help authorities find some answers.

A jolting sound followed by a ball of fire and flames that could be seen from miles away, that's how nearby residents describe Sunday night's scene.

After hearing the explosion and seeing emergency personnel rushing to the scene, area residents knew it had to be something bad.

And Monday. the damage spoke for itself.

"It was horrible."

The explosion erupted with enough force to send the top of the oil battery flying more than a hundred feet away, leaving a trail of oil in its wake.

The owner of the oil batteries did not want to speculate about a cause, but described his fear during the explosion.

"This was a really dangerous happening here."

And the danger that came from the incident was proven by the three men injured by the explosion and grassfire that followed.

In a communication with dispatch Sunday night following the explosion, a medic reported that one of the victims admitted to firing a gun near the oil batteries.

And while Cotton County Sheriff Kent Simpson said the cause is still under investigation, a bullet hole found in the tank that exploded may give authorities the evidence that they need.

But the question of why the men would have been shooting a gun so close to such a volatile and flammable machinery remained unanswered.

The Cotton County Sheriff's Department was unwilling to comment Monday on where they stand in their investigation, or if any charges will be filed in the case.

Crews were on scene throughout the Monday afternoon working to clean up the hundreds of barrels of oil that were housed inside the two batteries that now lay in melted pieces.

The Cotton County Sheriff did confirm that all three of the men injured in the accident suffered burns.

One man was airlifted to Oklahoma City where he remains in the hospital with extensive burns from his wrist to his feet.

Both OSBI and the State's Fire Marshals Office said they have not been called in to investigate.

 

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