Fallon-area refinery blast critically injures worker

Black smoke could be seen from U.S. Highway 50 just south of Bango.

Black smoke could be seen from U.S. Highway 50 just south of Bango.

A 24-year-old man was critically injured in a Monday morning explosion at the Bango Oil Refinery plant 15 miles west of Fallon.

The Fallon Churchill Fire Department — along with the Churchill County Sheriff’s Office and Nevada Highway Patrol and paramedics from Banner Churchill Community Hospital — rolled to the blast at the Bango plant, which restores used oil into its original life cycle, shortly after 9 a.m.

Sheriff Ben Trotter confirmed one man had been burned and flown to Renown hospital via Care Flight. The man then was transported to the University of California burn center. All 14 employees at the facility were accounted for, Trotter said.

Three engines and a brush truck arrived and were soon joined by two crash trucks, which can project a long stream of water and/or foam toward the flames. The crash trucks were used extensively in June 2011, when an 18-wheeler ran into an Amtrak passenger train 35 miles north of Fallon.

Trotter said witnesses reported hearing three to four “small booms.”

He said firefighters had the fire fully contained within 90 minutes of their arrival.

Bango issued a statement late Monday:

“The facility experienced a rupture in one of its product tanks. The plant was operating normally at the time the incident occurred. A small fire that resulted from the ruptured tank was quickly extinguished ... No material escaped the facility that would be considered dangerous to the surrounding environs or local residents. All operations at the plant have been suspended pending a full investigation of the matter. Bango Refining has dispatched a response and investigation team that will be on-site this evening (Monday).

Fire Chief Fred Rogne said three engines, two ladder trucks, six tenders (tanker) and three crash trucks responded.

“Weather was not a factor, but their valves to their water were frozen,” he said.

Consequently, Rogne said firemen relied on using water from the tenders.

Rogne said the Naval Air Station Fallon crash trucks helped tremendously and were an asset to the firefighting effort.

“Our guys did an outstanding job,” Rogne said, adding about 43 firefighters from both agencies were on the scene.

Jerry McCullough, ambulance service senior manager for Banner Churchill Community Hospital, said the injured man suffered burns to about 58 percent of his body, including his face, arms and hands, abdomen, back and neck. McCullough said the man also was covered in hot oil.


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