Tanker Truck Explodes, Building Catches Fire Near Whitewater

Crews have a fire under control after a propane tanker truck exploded at a farm cooperative in Lima Township on Friday afternoon.

SLIDESHOW:

Rock County sheriff’s officials said that the first report came in at about 3:11 p.m. that a propane tanker truck exploded at Landmark Services Coop, located in the 12000 block of East Highway 59 in Lima Township, which is just west of Whitewater.

They said the tanker and one building were on fire when fire crews arrived. Sheriff’s Capt. Jude Maurer said that 13 fire agencies responded and the fire was under control in about an hour.

Mauer said that nobody was hurt in the explosion and fire. Initial reports of multiple buildings on fire at the farm aren’t true, he said. The facility’s office building was damaged in the fire.

Mauer said the blast tore holes in the sides of a metal building where a worker was transferring propane from a storage tank to a delivery tanker. The worker was able to run out of the building before the explosion. Mauer said the worker realized there was problem when the filling tube became disconnected from the tanker and propane started spraying all over. The worker said he knew it was going to ignite so he ran away.

According to the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, an unknown source ignited the propane, which caused the explosion.

Wisconsin Emergency Management officials said that the truck was carrying about 3,500 gallons of propane and was engulfed in flames. They said it’s unknown how much was in the larger supply tank or if it was involved in the explosion.

Crews said they will stay at the site for four to six hours to continue to put out hot spots. Evacuations weren’t needed at anytime, Maurer said.

The Wisconsin State Patrol said that Highway 59 was closed in both directions between County Line Road and County Highway KK for about two hours because of the fire, but reopened at about 6:15 p.m.

Some viewers reported feeling the explosion miles away from the blast.

The Sheriff’s Office said that the total loss because of the fire and explosion hasn’t been determined yet.

The Department of Labor issued $721,000 in penalties to Cooperative Plus after a worker was seriously injured at its Burlington facility in February 2010. They faced other penalties later that year for federal workplace safety violations at both its Whitewater and Genoa City sites.

According to the Sheriff’s Office news release, those agencies that responded included Milton, Whitewater, Palmyra, Clinton, Sharon, Turtle Township, Edgerton, Lauderdale-LaGrange, Beloit Township, East Troy, Janesville, Walworth, Fort Atkinson and Darien.

Stay tuned to WISC-TV and Channel 3000 for continuing coverage.