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Chrissie Cole
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Vacuum Truck Driver Killed in Explosion

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Man Killed in a deadly oil field explosion.

A man is dead after the vacuum truck he was driving hit an oil well triggering a horrendous explosion, this morning.

He was found dead two hours after the fire was reported, according to Fire Department officials. At first, officials were under the assumption that it was a natural gas fire with no injuries. Fire Rescue had to stay a good distance away due to the flames. The accident occurred at 6:30am.

After the fire finally burned itself out, around 8am, firefighters found the man in a truck owned by Vacuum Tank Services.

Smoke and flames could be seen for 20 miles, reported a oil-field worker. The explosion was near Reward and Franco Western Road on a site leased by Plains Exploration & Production (PXP). Offices were evacuated during the incident.

PXP will be conducting an investigation as well as other agencies, said Vice President of Environmental, Health and Safety and Government Affairs.

“Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the individual who was involved,” Rusch said. PXP contracts with Johnston Vacuum Truck Service.

Vacuum trucks use hoses to suck oil from the wells and then they transport the oil, water and chemicals around the job site.

After the fired burned out, a mixture of oil, steam, gas and water were shooting skyward from one of the wells and horizontally from another. Reignition was a danger and concern for fire rescue who was working with oil field employees to close the steam lines to the wells. Hydrogen Sulfide, a toxic, flammable gas, was also in the mix.

It is too early to estimate the economic damage, Johnston said.

According to its Web site, PXP owns oil and gas properties in six states. Its principal operations include sites in the Los Angeles and San Joaquin basins.

This is the second explosion near an oil field in as many months.

In early February, a gas pipeline rupture caused an explosion and injured four workers at an Occidental Petroleum site near Tupman in western Kern County. Several vehicles and buildings were destroyed in that blast.