One man was killed and two more were seriously injured Wednesday afternoon when a fuel tank exploded on a ranch about 12 miles north of Merced.
Two ranch workers suffered major injuries and were flown to a hospital in Modesto, according to the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.
Updates on their conditions were not available.
The identities of the men involved in the apparent industrial accident were not released Wednesday.
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Deputy Delray Shelton said the explosion was reported around 3:45 p.m. at 9570 Highway 59, about halfway between Snelling and Merced. Merced County firefighters extinguished the burning fuel tank, which appeared to be at the edge of an orchard just north of a farm home.
“There was a gas tank that exploded and there’s a possibility there was some metal shrapnel from the explosion,” Shelton said.
It was unclear Wednesday night what the employees were working on at the time of the incident. It was also unclear if they were employed by ranch directly or by an independent farm-labor employment service.
The state Division of Occupational Safety and Health is expected to be involved in the investigation, Shelton said.