The Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office on Thursday provided an update on the investigation into an oil tank explosion and fire aty an inactive oil field site that claimed the life of a Longville teen last weekend.
The multi-agency investigation remains undetermined at this time, but authorities say the victim's presence near the tanks moments before the incident has been identified as a contributing factor in the case.
Around 5 p.m. on Sunday, February 28, Beauregard Fire District #2 responded to a call for an explosion and fire in the area of Cordial Lane and S Cooley Road in Longville, which is near the Ragley area.
Witnesses statements indicate that two tank batteries on an inactive oil field site exploded, one after the other, with one traveling several hundred yards away from its starting location. Firefighters located the body of a 14-year-old girl, identified as Zalee Day, near the displaced tanks. According to police, Day lived within eyesight of the tanks.
Additional witness statements indicate the teen was seen in the immediate area of the tanks in the moments before the blasts and subsequent fire.
Following an extensive assessment of the scene involving Beauregard Parish Sheriff's Deputies, State Fire Marshal deputies, and Louisiana State Police Emergency Services, investigators have determined that the victim's interactions with the tanks, both of which contained reserve barrels of crude oil, contributed to the ignition. The victim's final actions and the exact cause of the explosion and fire is still undetermined and under investigation.
The agencies involved, including the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources, remind residents that oil sites, active or not, as well as the equipment operating and stored on them are dangerous. Also, going onto oil site properties without permission is considered trespassing.
Residents near the oil site told KPLC that they could hear the explosion from miles away when it occurred Sunday evening.
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