Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2001

Victim of oil tank explosion identified

Lighted match triggered fatal blast

September 6, 2001


Lighting a match was apparently the last thing Donnie Gene Graham did before dying in a Tuesday night oil tank explosion.

Authorities say the 37-year-old Bonner Springs man struck the match while atop a ladder, peering through the hatch of the oil tank, which was half full with about 600 gallons of oil.

"He couldn't see, so he struck a match, and it blew," said David Zoellner, Leavenworth County undersheriff.

The explosion tossed Graham's body and the hatch cover about 31 feet. The top of the oil tank was thrown about 95 feet.

The fire took volunteers from three township fire departments about an hour to douse. They used foam to subdue the flames.

Graham's nephew, Jeffrey Scott McClellan, was nearby but unhurt in the explosion. A woman who drove the two men to the tank at 23012 207th Road also was uninjured, Zoellner said.

Graham and McClellan were hired by Renegade Resources Corp., Reno, Nev., to check the firm's tanks in the area, Zoellner said.

Graham was pronounced dead at the scene by the Leavenworth County deputy coroner. An autopsy is scheduled for today at Kansas University Medical Center, Kansas City, Kan., Zoellner said.

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