Pictured: No one was injured in an explosion at a saltwater facility in Freer Thursday. Five storage tanks were destroyed in the explosion, police said. Photo by SUE FLEMING

Despite explosions, no injuries were reported in incident

Sue Fleming, Duval County Correspondent

Freer - An explosion occurred at a saltwater disposal facility about 10 miles south of Freer on Thursday afternoon in which no injuries were reported, according to officials.

Ruben Casas of Freer, owner of the 160-acre ranch property that is located off of State Highway 16 where the disposal stands, arrived shortly after the accident happened about 12:30 p.m.

At least five tanks were destroyed, Casas said.

"I believe the men were doing some type of maintenance work," he said. "No one knows what caused it to blow."

The flames and smoke were visible from the highway. A shaken worker was watching the blaze from the roadway and when asked how many individuals were working when the blast occurred, he shook his head. He then replied, saying he was too busy running at the time to notice. Other employees declined to comment.

Casas said he leases his property to Texas Energy.

"I got a call that there was an explosion out here so I came out to see if anyone was hurt. said Casas as he watched the fire rage from within the tall tanks. "I'm thankful no one was."

A pickup truck and a flatbed truck owned by Richard Salinas that were parked near the flame filled storage tanks also caught fire after the eruption broke out.

"I have a backhoe out there, but I think it's all right," he said while watching firefighters continue to spray water on the burning vehicles.

Freer Fire Chief James Finney said the fire department waited for additional reinforcement to arrive after reaching the scene and approaching the area. He also said the fire department primarily did not use that much water to extinguish what they could.

"Texas Energy brought in water trucks and elected to go ahead and let it (tanks) burn out, (they) began salvaging what they could," Finney said.

Two hours later, after returning to the fire station, a firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion, but was doing fine, Finney added.

"Temperatures were in the lower 100's out there according to the heat index, that was a big factor," Finney said.

Also responding to the scene were Freer Emergency Medical Services, Duval County sheriff's deputies, the Department of Public Safety troopers and U.S. Border Patrol agents.