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fuel tank leak pointed to in barge blast

Monday, September 18, 2017 17:22 PM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

A leak in a fuel tank could be the source of a Michigan City barge explosion that injured all three passengers Friday.

Michigan City Port Authority Harbormaster Tim Frame, 55, had a fractured lower left leg, according to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources.

Alden Hopper, 65, had a possible broken right foot and leg along with a severe laceration to his left toe and other injuries, according to IDNR.

The third Port Authority employee, 34-year old Daniel Hoepf, had minor injuries to his left elbow.

According to U.S Coast Guard officials, the men were heading back from the beach at Washington Park with some of the buoys that mark the swimming area during the summer when the blast occurred.

IDNR Conservation officer Shawn Brown said a spark igniting the fuel or vapors possibly leaking from the tank could have come from a variety of sources like metal parts rubbing together or the cable on the battery.

An exposed electrical wire could be another possible ignition source, according to U.S Coast Guard petty officer Jason Lee.

Lee said the explosion happened when the electronic devices on the 24 foot long

vessel were turned on to radio for the Franklin St. draw bridge to open.

A crane on the barge required both spans of the bridge to lift for safe passage, Lee said.