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Heater explosion burns two workers at Pioneer Natural Resources

Posted on by SST

Two workers were setting up a new location for Pioneer Natural Resources when a hot water heater exploded, injuring both.

The two men – Charles Windham, a Pioneer employee, and Pat Lange, a subcontractor – were installing equipment at a new Victoria, Texas location on Monday, Sept. 30 when a leaking pipe leaked gas into the room, Victoria Advocate reported. Lange's boss, Robbe Davis, explained the incident:

"We did all the mechanical work on that project out there, and (Lange) was in the process of starting up all the propane-supplied equipment," he said.

The propane pipe, however, had a leak. Lacking a methane gas detector to warn him of the risk, Lange proceeded to light the water heater. The fumes surrounding the men were ignited.

"It was actually a flash fire," said Davis.

Windham was treated for burns on his face, hands and arms. Lange has been hospitalized for burns to his hands and forearms.

Oil company, oil region
Pioneer Natural Resources Co. is a nationwide oil and gas company that employs close to 500 people in South Texas. The company undergoes numerous drilling operations in the region – most recently, along the Eagle Ford Shale. The subsurface rock formation was first drilled in 2008, since becoming a popular location for the industry.

Pioneer's own production along the shale has boomed in recent years. According to their website, Pioneer's oil production has increased from less than 2 thousand barrels of oil equivalent per day in 2010 up to 38 in the second quarter of 2013.

Pioneer's headquarters are located in Irving, Texas. It it is unclear what the function the Victoria, Texas location is due to serve.

Industrial Safety News brought to you by Safety Systems Technology, Inc., leaders in fire and gas detection.

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