Two men are recovering after suffering second- and third-degree burns in a propane tank explosion last Wednesday night.
Jimmy Lassetter and Casey Rickett were offloading approximately 20 250-gallon propane tanks from a truck when the foot of one tank caught on another, causing the tanks to flip. When one tank hit the ground, it sheared off the valve, releasing the gas. A spark from an unknown source ignited the gas causing a flash fire and explosion.
The blast occurred around 6:20 p.m. at Amicalola Propanes Easy Street location off Hwy. 53, near Lumpkin Campground Road.
Lassetter was critically injured with second- and third-degree burns over 70 percent of his body. He was airlifted to Grady Hospital, and is in a medically-induced coma to aid in healing his injuries without feeling too much pain, according to Dennis Richardson, office manager at Amicalola Propane.
He had skin grafts on Friday or Saturday, Richardson said. The good news is his burns were not as deep as the doctors had first thought.
Lassetter, who owns Cedartown Propane Company, is a longtime friend of Matt and Kristin Richardson owners of Amicalola Propane. Family members were posting information about Lassetters condition on a social media website and said another surgery is planned for this week.
Casey Rickett, an Amicalola Propane employee, suffered burns over 50 percent of his body. Rickett was transported to Grady by ambulance.
They are going to remove some of his bandages and hes doing much better, Richardson added. The prognosis for both of them looks great.
A third man on the scene was unharmed.
An investigation into the incident is on-going. Officials from OSHA, DOT, and the Hazardous Materials division of the fire marshals office are involved.
Right now, Im ruling it undetermined, said Emergency Services Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield. But my personal opinion is Ive got a burn pattern along the grass to a heat pump unit. I cant prove it 100 percent, but Im not ruling it out either.
Other downhill sources include the power supply on a pole with an outlet, or a machine.
Satterfield added that one of his biggest concerns was a 30,000-gallon propane tank in close proximity to the fire. If the tank had been involved, the Premium Outlet Mall would have been evacuated.
When I got there product was still burning as well as tires on the truck, he said. My main concern was putting water on the tanks not involved and cooling everything down. We werent that concerned with putting the fire out, but rather containing it so the propane could burn off.
Our guys did a great job, Satterfield said. Dawson County Engine Companies 1, 2, and 7 responded.
The fire took approximately 1.5 hours to contain and extinguish, according to Satterfield, who added that he would like to thank the Forsyth County Fire Department, which sent Engine Companies 7 and 12, Haz Mat 2, and one ambulance with full crews to assist Dawson County.
Amicalola Propane listed a statement late on Friday, Dec. 7. It said:
Matt and Kristin Richardson and their staff would like the Rickett and Lassiter families to know that we are praying for you, and we cant wait to see you all back here soon. We also want to thank Dawson County law enforcement, fire, EMS and all the first responders that assisted in the unfortunate events at our plant on Wednesday, Dec. 5. Your fast and effective response is greatly appreciated. We are lucky to have you serving our community. We would also like to thank the Dawson County community and our loyal customers for their outpouring of concern and prayers.