Explosion at Pasco Welding Business

Date Published: May 18, 2023 / By: Admin

Three hours after an explosion shook a welding business in Pasco, employees are working to understand the cause and clean up the aftermath.

Pasco, WA: By Tuesday afternoon, the Pasco Fire Department had relinquished control of the building at 716 Oregon Ave. back to the Spokane-based OXARC company, according to Ben Shearer, the department's public information officer.

Firefighters responded to the explosion at around 10:20 a.m. in a metal building where acetylene is manufactured. The building contained acetylene containers and the production machinery.

Fortunately, one employee working in the area at the time of the explosion managed to escape unharmed. Other OXARC employees were evaluated by medics at the scene, and one employee was taken to a local medical center for further checks.

Efforts to extinguish the burning acetylene containers were carefully planned to ensure the safety of fire crews. OXARC's diverse range of gas products presented challenges due to the varying reactions of different gases to water. Cooperation with OXARC employees helped identify the storage locations of acetylene and ensured the machinery was shut off.

Firefighters focused on containing the heat and fire to prevent it from spreading to neighboring buildings. "Once we knew what we were dealing with, everything went very quickly and efficiently," said Shearer.

The extent of the damage to the building is currently unknown, and the business remains closed. OXARC is a prominent supplier of welding, industrial supplies, safety products, and training across the Northwest with 21 locations.

While initial concerns arose about the smoke and acetylene in the air, Shearer confirmed that the gas dissipated quickly, and there are no known public health issues or chemical spills. Firefighters took precautions to prevent water from entering the storm drains.

The explosion led to a temporary closure of Oregon Avenue between East A Street and East Lewis Street, and nearby schools underwent a brief lockdown as a precautionary measure. Firefighters rotated in and out of the scene due to the warm temperatures, resting in designated cooling areas.

In total, 34 fire units from various departments, including Pasco, Richland, Kennewick, Franklin County Fire District 3, Walla Walla Fire District 5, Benton County Fire districts 1 and 4, and West Benton Fire Rescue, as well as police and utility crews from Pasco and Franklin Emergency Management, provided assistance at the scene.

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