RANTOUL — There might be more to the story than what’s being told to authorities, Alan Radcliffe said.
An investigation is under way into what was described as an explosion at an EnerJex Resources oil lease in the Rantoul area.
“At 6:25 a.m. [Monday], Franklin County dispatch received a call about an oil tank on fire at an oil tank battery in the 4300 block of Finney Road,” Radcliffe, Franklin County fire marshal, said. “The odd thing is that about 200 yards to the east of this tank battery is another tank battery that caught fire Friday around the same time.”
Brandye Bordelon, compliance controller at EnerJex, confirmed Monday’s incident was under investigation. Fire crews were still trying to clean up the oil and figure out the cause of the explosion Monday afternoon.
Firefighters from Lincoln-Ottawa-Harrison Township, Cutler Township and Pottawatomie responded to the scene, Radcliffe said.
“First report was that an oil tank exploded at a tank battery,” Radcliffe said. “Apparently one of the tanks exploded and caught two others on fire.”
Authorities didn’t have a damage estimate from the incident, as of Monday afternoon, he said.
“We don’t know an awful lot,” Radcliffe said. “But something’s not right about these fires, and maybe they’ll find out it was all just an accident.”
Amy Pickert Oshel, Richmond, said she saw clouds of black smoke Monday morning and followed the smoke to the site of the tanker explosion.
“I didn’t hear anything, but a lady I talked to, who lives next to it, said it shook their house when it exploded,” Oshel said. “I assumed it was lightning because of the storms we had [Sunday] night.”
The state fire marshal also is investigating the two explosions since they occurred within a short time period and within a short distance of each other, Radcliffe said.
“From what I saw, it’s going to be tough to determine a cause,” Radcliffe said. “It took quite a bit to get the fire put out, and there was a lot of damage.”