Man dies in Arvin oil tank explosion

ARVIN, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) A man was killed Tuesday when an oil tank exploded in Arvin, according to the Kern County Fire Department.

Workers were removing what they thought were old, empty tanks in a field off Campus Drive, behind a fire station, fire Capt. Derek Tisinger said.

Two Skybrand Services employees were using a torch to dismantle pipes on top of one tank, which held remnant petroleum vapor. The torch ignited the vapor, blasting the tank about 30 feet into the air and launching one of the workers, 24-year-old Cesar Martinez, of Arvin, about 50 feet into the air.

Martinez was killed.

The other worker reportedly suffered critical injuries and was rushed via helicopter to a hospital. His name hasn't been released.

A hazmat team was called to the field, but Tisinger said the tanks present no danger to area residents.

Skybrand Services owner Theron Smith said his workers followed safety procedures but ensured any necessary changes would be made to prevent deadly accidents.

"It should never be that we run the risk of death," Smith said. "It should be that we go to work and do our jobs safely."

Cal/OSHA is investigating.