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Explosion in Russellville startles many


This is all that is left of an oxygen tank that exploded in Russellville Friday. | Nathan Strickland/FCT


A Friday night explosion left many Franklin County residents wondering what happened.

The Russellville Fire department received a call just before 10 p.m. Friday night of a structure fire that was destroying a storage building at 33 Apple Street in the Dillard Hollar community in Russellville.

Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said firefighters in route witnessed the explosion happen.

“The guys that were working that night said they heard a loud boom and saw a ball of fire come from the storage building just before arriving at the scene,” he said.

Mansell said the eruption caused the home, which was located in front of the unit to also sustain fire damage.

Mansell said after firefighters were able to put out the blaze they began looking for what could have possibly caused the loud explosion.

“After firefighters extinguished the fire we were able to find what appeared to be the remains of a medical oxygen tank made out of quarter-inch steel blown to pieces about 15 feet from the shed,” he said. “ I’m glad no one was around when the actual explosion occurred because I don’t see how someone would have been able to survive if they were hit by the tank.”

Mansell said a large volume of calls was received from residents as far as King’s Drive-in who had heard the explosion.

Mansell said a Russellville police officer that was parked along U.S. 43 heard the explosion and responded to the scene.

Franklin County Fire Marshal Bobby Malone said his investigation did not find the cause of the fire.

“Russellville fire Captain Randy Seal had informed me that a strong lightning storm had come into the area just before the loud explosion, so that might have been what caused it,” Malone said. “When incidents like this happen many people speculate that it was either some kids getting out of hand or a meth lab exploded, but I searched through the debris during my investigation and found no evidence either one of those scenarios.”

Malone said the owner was out of town at the time of the incident and had already drawn up papers to tear down the two structures at some point.