Morning Explosion Rocks Blakesburg

The smoldering remains of this Sinclair tanker truck are all that remain after the fire and explosion that rocked Blakesburg this morning

Blakesburg, Iowa – “I woke up and then I heard a huge boom.” is how Mitzy Solis, age 12, describes being woke up this morning in Blakesburg. From there young Mitzy went and knocked on her grandma’s door, “and she wasn’t there”, so Mitzy then knocked on another neighbors house. When she looked around, they had the driver of the truck on the ground. “2 guys were calling 911, then this lady was checking the guys pulse.

From there, Mitzy stood with family until they were forced to evacuate to a safe distance from the fire. Mitzy says that she was pretty scared and that there was lots of smoke.

Around 8:30 a.m. July 8th, the Sinclair petroleum tanker appears to have been offloading fuel to some storage tanks at the coop area when the fire started. Investigators are not yet commenting on what may have caused the fire that sparked the explosion.

Other than rattling windows, none of the homes next to the coop appear to have suffered any damage. Not long after residents and children were once again seen walking their neighborhood and talking about their experience.

Blakesburg’s 1st Assistant Fire Chief Jim Deevers said that, “We had a Sinclair truck that caught fire and blew everything all to hell, in a nutshell.” Deevers said this with some laughter after a long day of fighting the 15 alarm fire. The fire was limited to the tanker, and a little shed the truck was parked near when the fire started.

“We evacuated this whole town, from here to the fire department”, Deevers stated about the precautions being taken to protect the residents. The fire department is nearly 6 blocks North of where the fire occurred. Firefighters were concerned that the 5500 gallons of fuel, only 35 yards away from the blaze, might have also caught on fire.

Deevers stated that only the driver was hurt in the morning explosion and fire, and his condition is currently unknown at this time. The driver was transported from the scene of the fire by ambulance the 6 blocks north to the fire department, then air lifted from that point to a hospital.

“We had 15 different departments here, about 100 different firefighters, police, and HAZMAT.” Deevers said of the response to the fire they were already working. Blakesburg Fire started out by putting water on the flames, “the fire was growing pretty hot pretty quickly and we started backing up”. As the fire starting working its way to the tank trailer itself, “We started backing people up 2 blocks. We backed up a couple of blocks, then reassessed what we were going to do.”

They regrouped and started fighting it from 2 different angles, “fought it with unmanned monitors that we could hook up and stand on the ground and we foamed them that way.” Deevers said that, “We didn’t have to have anybody up there close to it”.

Just like many local heroes, Deevers works a daytime job. So when his community needed him he left work at John Deere, drove the distance from Ottumwa to Blakesburg, and helped to fight the fire that threatened to be far worse.

One firefighter did go down with heat exhaustion and was transported to Ottumwa Regional to be looked at.


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