One killed, four injured in Guthrie explosion

The man killed in an explosion Wednesday afternoon in Guthrie has been identified and additional information has been released on the incident.

Todd County Coroner Timothy Wells identifies the victim as 34-year old Bryan Bonilla of Clarksville, who was pronounced dead at the scene.

Todd County Emergency Management Director Daniel Smith says a vacuum truck waste hauler from Onsite Environmental was removing an alkaline lye solution for a holding tank at the Quick Turn Anodizing facility on Second Street in Guthrie shortly before 1 p.m.

Near the end of that process, what was described as white smoke or steam was seen coming from the area of the truck which was parked directly in front of the building.

Smith says within a few minutes, the tank containing approximately 300 gallons of the solution catastrophically failed at its end cap seam.

The end cap flew approximately 125 feet to the north landing in a vacant lot and the remainder of the tank went through the exterior of the building, through an interior partition and hit a support beam before finally coming to a stop about 100 feet away, just short of exiting the rear of the building.

Bonilla was killed when the tank struck two employees working near the center of the facility. The owner of the business, who Bonilla had been speaking to at the time, was taken first to a local hospital and then transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville.

Also injured was the driver of the truck, who was standing near it and was thrown into the vacant lot, and he was taken by EMS to Tennova Health Hospital.

Guthrie and Trenton Water Superintendent Benn Andrew Stahl, who is also a Trenton Volunteer firefighter, was eating lunch at the nearby American Café and responded to investigate when he saw the initial smoke. His pastor, Greg Mathis of Trenton Baptist Church, was with him at the time and posted Wednesday night that Stahl was recovering in the Vanderbilt burn unit. Mathis sustained some minor burns and did not require a trip to the hospital.

Another employee who had been outside had minor injuries and went by private vehicle to a local hospital.

Investigation into the cause is ongoing by the Kentucky State Fire Marshall and the Kentucky Environmental Cabinet.

Smith says at this time it is believed that for some reason an organic fat such as cooking oil became mixed with the alkaline waste water in the tank which resulted in an exothermic saponification reaction.

The reaction raised the temperature inside the tank causing the water portion of the solution to boil.  This raised the pressure inside it to a point beyond its designed strength resulting in the failure of the tank seam.

Numerous local and state agencies responded to the incident, including Guthrie Fire and Police, Todd and Logan Co EMS, Montgomery Co EMS, Vanderbilt Life Flight, Todd Co Rescue Squad, Todd County Emergency Management, Todd County Coroner, Todd County Burden Bearers, Allensville Fire Department, Hopkinsville Fire Department, Kentucky State Fire Marshall and Kentucky Environmental Cabinet.


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