One worker killed and 3 others hurt in Mead oil tank battery fire

The site is about 4 miles north of an Anadarko gas well in Firestone that was linked to a fatal home explosion in April.
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BEST1 Workers from the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission assist in the investigation on Friday into a fire that killed two people and injured two others in Firestone. Matthew Jonas/Staff Photographer April 28, 2017

GREELEY — Authorities say a worker was killed and three others were injured in an oil tank fire in northern Colorado.

The site in Mead owned by Anadarko Petroleum Corporation caught fire during maintenance work on the oil tanks Thursday afternoon. Three of the contract workers were hospitalized — one with serious injuries and two with moderate injuries. The dead worker was found soon after.

The names of the victims have not been released, and investigators have not said what caused the fire. Anadarko confirmed the death and said workers were "finishing projects associated with a facility upgrade." The company didn't elaborate.

The site is about 4 miles north of an Anadarko gas well in Firestone that was linked to a fatal home explosion in April.

Gov. John Hickenlooper, a former geologist who worked in the petroleum industry, said he agrees with local investigators who say that the two deadly incidents aren't related. He also said that the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating Thursday's blast.

House Majority Leader KC Becker and Rep. Mike Foote, both Democrats, said Friday that the fire was unacceptable — especially coming after a fatal house explosion in the region blamed on a natural gas pipe leak.

Foote said the industry and government "have an obligation to treat these incidents not as isolated or freak accidents."

Anadarko is investigating the cause of the explosion, and the owner of the site said the oil tank battery was not in operation when it caught fire.

An oil tank battery is a collection of tanks that receive crude oil production from a well.

Last fall, a Denver Post investigative series found that there were at least 51 fatalities since 2003 in Colorado’s oil and gas fields. The investigation described a "system that falls short of consistently protecting workers and fails to hold companies strictly accountable."

This story has been updated throughout.

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