Police confirm gas explosion at a Highland business

HIGHLAND, Ill. – An unexpected gas explosion in Highland, Illinois sent one man to the hospital as fire departments rushed to extinguish the blaze.

Charred wood and burnt cylinders are pretty much all that’s left Gateway Cylinder after Monday morning’s explosion.

Highland Fire Chief Rick Bloemker said first responders were notified of the explosion at the propane and medical gas cylinder company around 10 a.m.

Firefighters had to use more than 1,200 feet of hose because of a water supply problem, Bloemker said.

“Once we got here, we realized what the area was and they were dealing with saline,” Bloemker said. “Saline is very unstable. They had some type of procedure with working on the tanks and something went bad.”

The chief said one man working inside the building was taken to a hospital with second-degree burns on 20 percent of his body.

“He was mostly able to turn away from it. The explosion really didn’t explode, it flared up and then it exploded,” Bloemker said.

Bloemker said there’s a couple of factors that could’ve led to the explosion, including the tanks igniting by themselves or static electricity.

Highland’s fire marshal and arson investigators were on the scene, but Chief Bloemker said they don’t believe the cause of the explosion is suspicious.

“We don’t suspect any foul play or anything like that. It just procedures,” he said.