Denham Springs residents wait for hours to return to homes after oil tank explosion

Denham Springs residents wait for hours to return to homes after oil tank explosion
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Friday, May 3, 2013 - 5:15pm

Over 30 Denham Springs families were left out of their homes as two oil tanks burned out after catching on fire.

"It sounded like thunder. Real severe thunder, and it shook the house. And we looked out the window and it wasn't 15 -20 minutes later the woods were on fire where the tank was at," recalled Jim Golden. Golden lives across the street from the two tanks that exploded and caught fire Thursday night in Denham Springs.

"It’s been hectic, I mean they told us we had to get out of the house at 10:54 last night. So we just grabbed what we had and left," said Golden.

For over 16 hours residents could see this thick black smoke billowing over their neighborhood as they waited for the all clear to get back into their homes.

"(it could be) Anywhere from 12 to 36 hours, maybe. It just depends on the other tank," Golden shared.

Officials with the Livingston Parish Office of Emergency Preparedness played it safe, creating a hot zone around the burn. They say they could not let the 30 evacuated families back in until all 2,400 barrels of oil burned up.

"They're going to start doing the foam and trying to extinguish the fire on the outside of the tanks and start cooling the tanks down and at that point they should be able to extinguish all the fire," explained Mark Harrall with LOHSEP.

Officials are also making sure there are no lasting problems with chemicals leaking into the ground by creating a berm around the tanks.

"Everything from the oil tanks is burning off, it's doing what it's supposed to do," Harrell related.

DEQ was also on site monitoring air quality and reported no problems. Golden said as long as the air quality's good he's ready to move back in.

"If the workers aren't wearing respirators it should be alright for us," said Golden.

There is no official cause of the explosion and subsequent fire but officials believe it could be the result of a lightening strike.

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