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Iowa Gas Blast Kills 2 Firefighters

April 10, 1998

ALBERT CITY, Iowa (AP) _ A flaming propane tank exploded at a turkey farm, killing two volunteer firefighters and injuring six others and a deputy sheriff.

The exploded happened Thursday night after authorities responded to a call about a fire at the tank at the Herrig Brothers turkey farm, about two miles north of Albert City in northwest Iowa.

The tank held 18,000 gallons of propane, and the explosion destroyed or heavily damaged four barns, said Buena Vista County Sheriff Charles Eddy said. It was unclear what started the fire.

Jon Westergaard, former fire chief in nearby Newell, said firefighters told him they thought it was safe to approach the tank because flames were shooting from a safety valve at the top.

``That’s what they teach you in fire school, the valve relieves pressure and prevents an explosion,″ Westergaard said. ``When they saw fire coming out of the bottom, they turned and walked away and that’s the last any of them remember.″

Two firefighters died instantly, authorities said. Their names were not immediately released.

Four injured firefighters were listed in good condition and another was in stable condition today. The sixth firefighter and a Buena Vista County deputy sheriff were treated and released.

The sheriff said the deputy received a minor concussion.

``He was just getting out of his car to direct traffic when it exploded. The explosion threw him into the ditch,″ Eddy said.

Update hourly