MOORE — The vodka distillery where a man was seriously burned last week in an alcohol flash fire had previously been warned by local fire officials not to use an open flame to make the product.
Twister Distillery in Moore had been distilling its product, called Success Vodka, in a homemade still that was hooked up to an open-flame burner fueled by a propane tank. The still and propane tank were on a wooden pallet atop the tines of a forklift.
The type of still Twister was using at the time of the fire should not have been in operation, said Moore Fire Marshal Jeff Lindsay.
“In fact, the business had been advised they could not utilize open flame for a heat source,” Lindsay said.
Twister Distillery owner Alvin Philipose said Monday that he was unaware of any fire code issues with the still.
“The fire marshal walked through there on Tuesday morning and gave us final approval,” he said. “We would not have opened up if we had not had the go-ahead and all of our inspections were done.”
Twister recently had invested in a larger, custom-made copper still, but the equipment had yet to be hooked up to a gas line and was not operational when a flash fire erupted at the business Friday morning.
A gasket on top of the smaller still ruptured, causing alcohol to spew several feet into the air. Seconds later, a fireball engulfed the distillery, which is in an industrial park in the 2300 block of N Moore Avenue.
Distiller Jeff Thurmon remained listed in critical condition at Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City on Monday after suffering second-degree burns over 52 percent of his body in the flash fire.
Twister Distillery is licensed by the Oklahoma ABLE Commission. The business was in the process of obtaining the proper city licenses to operate in Moore when the fire occurred, Lindsay said. The distillery is required by the city to have fire extinguishers on site, but not automatic systems, such as fire sprinklers, he said.
Success starts sales
Success Vodka became available earlier this month at local liquor stores. The business plans to reopen soon, Philipose said Monday.
“We are definitely going to open back up — it’s just a matter of when,” he said.
The business had been advised they could not utilize open flame for a heat source.”
Moore Fire Marshal