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Kirwin blasts leave two firefighters seriously hurt

7/14/2010

KIRWIN — Six Kirwin firefighters were injured — two of them seriously — just after 7 p.m. Tuesday when acetylene gas cylinders for welding exploded inside a burning truck about a half-mile west of Kirwin.

Rose

Rozmiarek, chief investigator for the Kansas State Fire Marshal’s Office said the truck belonged to a crew

making repairs on the Kirwin water tower. The crew members had left for the

evening, leaving the truck behind. About 7:10 p.m., firefighters from

the Kirwin City-Rural Fire Department and neighboring rural firefighters were

called to a report of the truck on fire, near the water tower about a half mile west of Kirwin.

Workers with the repair crew

were in the process of replacing the roof of the tank dome, Rozmiarek

said. She said  for now, the water tower isn’t operational.

While the firefighters attempted to extinguish the flames, at least two explosions ripped through the scene.

Two firefighters were airlifted from the scene to a Nebraska hospital, while several others were taken to  Phillips County Hospital in Phillipsburg for treatment for smoke inhalation and minor injuries, Rozmiarek

said. Neither the nature nor severity of the injuries were specified.

“As firefighters attempted to extinguish the fire, a portion of the trailer exploded, injuring some of the firefighters,” according to the statement. “Shortly thereafter, a second explosion occurred, damaging a portion of the roof of the water tower.”

The incident is being investigated by the state fire marshal’s office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and the Phillips County Sheriff’s Department.

For more, see Thursday's Hays Daily News or check HDNews.net for updates.

• By MIKE CORN, The Hays Daily News

(The Salina Journal contributed to this story.)