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32 Year Old In Critical Following Oil Well Explosion

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A 32 year old man is in critical condition at UofM hospital with third degree burns over his entire body.

He was driving a truck that caused a natural gas line to explode at an oil well in Leonie township.

The fire occurred on West Bay's oil well property, near Dorrell and Portage road.

Mark Curl has lived next to the West Bay oil well for nine years and hasn't heard and smelled anything out of the ordinary until Wednesday around 6.

 "While the rumble took off, the explosion happened and actually moved my son up against the wall and my other son in the garage knocked him off his chair," said Home Owner Mark Curl.

That impact the Curl's felt is believed to be the result of a natural gas line explosion that happened at the West Bay oil well site.

"It appears that we had a truck driver that may have hit a gas line," said West Bay Field Operations Manager Jeff Schunk.

Causing the semi-hauler he was driving to go up in flames.

"I can't tell you why he was exactly where he was at, where you surprised by it.... a little bit yes," Schunk said.


That driver, a 32 year old man from Clare County suffered serious 3rd degree burns and had to be airlifted to University of Michigan hospital.

"Fortunately we were able to extinguish that fire without anyone else being injured and we were very quickly able to rescue the driver and get him away from danger," said Deputy Director Blackman Leoni Public Safety Jon Johnston.

There were workers nearby, but not near the explosion when it happened, the environmental protection agency, DEQ and MI-OSHA will be on hand through the investigation.

The oil well portion of West Bay will be shut down while the investigation continues.



LEONI TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLNS) - Fire crews are headed to what is being called an explosion at an oil pumping field owned by West Bay in Leoni Township in Jackson County.

It happened around 6p.m. Wednesday near Portage and Dorrell roads, east of Jackson.

Officials say a semi truck backed into a pipeline, which caused the explosion. The driver of that truck was flown to a nearby hospital with injuries.

The fire has since been put out.

One viewer reported that neighbors could feel the explosion rock the houses in that area.

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