EUFAULA, Okla. - Two workers are in an induced coma for burns from a Eufaula sandblasting plant, McIntosh County emergency manager Wesley Dawson said Tuesday.
Sources confirm Don Hamilton and Mike Cox are at Tulsa's Hillcrest Hospital for second- and third-degree burns on up to 60 percent of their bodies.
A propane explosion at Ford Sandblasting Plant off Highway 9 happened just before 1 p.m. Tuesday, according to Dawson.
Witnesses report hearing a loud boom, followed by another boom shortly thereafter. The roof of the plant collapsed and its walls caved in following the explosion.
Investigators say the men were carrying a 250-gallon propane tank on a forklift when it fell off, breaking off the valve. Propane then began leaking into the building, starting a fire when another 5-gallon tank exploded.
Eufaula's Mayor Selina Dorman says Ford's was operating illegally. The City of Eufaula sent a cease and desist letter to the plant in February. The owner doesn't have business permits and is doing industrial work in a commercial zone. The next step was sending out the city attorney.
Dorman said OSHA will be on scene Wednesday. Most of the workers are contract labor employees who don't have insurance, according to Dorman.
Dorman said Eufaula's fire chief didn't know workers were dealing with propane, even though 2NEWS found tanks outside the building. Officials believe 11 tanks are still inside Ford's Plant.
Police evacuated neighbors and Eufaula elementary and middle schools. Everyone is back in their homes Tuesday night.
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