The Woodward News

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September 5, 2012

Cause of fire at welding shop under investigation

Woodward, Okla. — Fire officials are investigating the cause of a fire that destroyed a welding shop on the west side of Woodward on Wednesday afternoon.

No one was injured in the fire, which broke out around 12:35 p.m. at a welding facility owned by Diamond Services.  The company, whose campus is located in the 4200 block of Oklahoma Ave., is involved in energy-related excavation, pipeline construction and trucking.

Due to it being the lunch hour, the facility was mostly vacant when the fire erupted, according to Kerry Martin, president of Diamond Services.

"One of our foremen has a little office inside the building and he was out in front of the office when heard some loud popping," Martin said.  "He ran out and around to the front of the building and he saw that there was lots of smoke coming from the corner and it was already in flames."

Martin said that while there were numerous fire extinguishers kept inside the structure, "the fire was already out of control," so the employee decided to get to a safe distance and call 9-1-1.

Due to a number of flammable materials inside the structure, including welding-related gases such as acetylene, the fire spread quickly.

By the time firefighters arrived on scene, the entire structure was "fully engulfed," according to Woodward Assistant Fire Chief Todd Finley.

Click below to watch Finley's initial report from the scene, shot about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5.

Firefighters began an exterior attack on the fire, but several explosions from within the burning facility caused fire officials to pull their men and equipment back to a safe distance, Finley said.  It also led them to evacuate people from surrounding buildings.

"We were concerned about exploding bottles flying through the air, which we saw a few of," he said.

He said one container was blasted out so far that its charred remains actually landed in the middle of the road.

Beyond the explosions, Finley said there were also concerns about the amount of thick, dark smoke that was pouring out from the fire.

"We didn't realize what type of smoke it was, whether it was anything hazardous or if it was just common smoke, so we had the highway shut down for that reason," he said.

All lanes of Oklahoma Avenue/Highway 412 were closed between the 3700 and 4700 blocks for at least 2 hours while fire crews from Woodward, Mooreland, Sharon, and Fort Supply worked to get the fire under control and extinguished.

With the fire mostly extinguished, 2 of the lanes were opened by around 3 p.m. to allow traffic to once again flow through and by 5 p.m. all lanes of traffic were opened.

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