Traverse City Record-Eagle

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June 21, 2013

Two hurt in fire at truck wash

KALKASKA — Two Kalkaska truck wash workers were hospitalized for burns after fumes from an oil tanker they cleaned ignited in a flash fire.

Kalkaska Township Fire Chief Derek Hogerheide said fire crews were dispatched Wednesday at 9:05 p.m. to a report of a fire and explosion at the Kalkaska Truck Wash off Cedar Street.

Ambulances were already transporting two injured workers to Munson Medical Center when firefighters arrived, he said.

“When we got there, the back of the truck was on fire and the floor drains were on fire,” he said. “Everything was extinguished quickly.”

The men — ages 19 and 58 — remain hospitalized, and Hogerheide didn’t know the extent of their burns.

He said one may be released as soon as today and both are expected to recover.

The Kalkaska Truck Wash is owned by American Waste and Northern A-1 and offers tanker cleaning services.

Hogerheide said the two workers were cleaning out a 60-barrel tanker used to transport water removed during oil production.

He said they were cleaning out oil and condensate, a clear byproduct of oil product, with hot steam.

“The fumes from the oil and condensate traveled to an adjacent room where they were ignited by the steamer,” he said.

The steamer had an igniter similar to a hot water heater that was the ignition source, he said.

Hogerheide said this led to a flash fire. Condensate on the floor also ignited and continued to burn, he said.

“Unfortunately, a little bit can be catastrophic if ignited,” he said.

Hogerheide said the fire department’s investigation was complete and state health and safety officials would take over.

Cassie Hickens, director of human resources with American Waste, which owns the truck wash, said the company’s safety department continues to investigate the incident.

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