Investigators: Deadly oil tank battery explosion in Mead caused by combustible products buildup

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WELD COUNTY, Colo. — The oil tank battery explosion in Weld County that killed one person and injured three others in May was caused by a buildup of combustible products that was ignited by workers’ equipment, the Mountain View Fire Protection District said Friday.

The fire and explosion on May 25 happened at a oil tank battery near Colorado Highway 66 and Colorado Boulevard in Mead. Anadarko Petroleum owns and operates the site.

Investigators determined the fire and explosion started in a trench that was dug out to remove and replace piping.

Officials said just before the time of the blast, three contract workers were excavating, welding and pipe cutting at the same time.

Officials said the Occupational Safety and Health Administration might issue citations to employers for any violations of the occupational safety and health regulations it identifies in the coming months.

Fire officials believe there could have been more than one ignition source and they have not pinpointed where the fire started inside the trench.

OSHA and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are investigating the explosion. The agencies have not released their findings on the case.