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Pauls Valley man killed in Wynnewood refinery blast Friday

BY ZEKE CAMPFIELD Modified: September 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm •  Published: September 29, 2012

A refinery blast that killed a Pauls Valley man and injured another Friday evening happened when pressurized gas built up in a boiler unit and then detonated.

The small blast occurred during a shift change on the second day of “turnaround” at the facility, a 40-day shutdown period scheduled when workers refurbish and repair refinery equipment, said Garvin County Sheriff Larry Rhodes.

Rhodes said Billy Smith, 34, a full-time employee at the refinery, was the man who died.

Another full-time worker, Russell Mann, of Davis, remains in critical condition at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City after suffering blunt force trauma during the blast.

Rhodes said both men are well-known in the Pauls Valley and Wynnewood communities.

“The refinery has been a good neighbor to Wynnewood for years, and while nobody gets used to tragedies like this, the community is aware they occur and there's some risk with a refinery operation like this,” he said.

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