Topeka Fire Department responds to explosion, no one injured

Colton Goeffert Washburn Review

Yesterday, April 18, the Topeka Fire Department received a call about an explosion that occurred around 2:30 PM, at the Oakland Wastewater Treatment Plant on Poplar Street. The Fire Department responded hastily and the first fire officials to arrive on the scene were able to confirm that an explosion had indeed happened.

As the building was vacant at the time of the blast, there were no injuries.  The explosion occurred in a vehicle cleaning bay that is used daily, with vehicles parked inside it overnight.

When employees of the plant first noticed the explosion there was still a fire burning. Acting fast the workers took it upon themselves to put out the fire and managed to minimize damage before fire officials arrived.

When the fire officials did arrive, they could see smoke and smell gas, though they weren’t prepared to officially name a gas leak as the cause of the blast. Fire officials also weren’t prepared to announce what they determined to be the cause of the explosion, as they weren’t absolutely certain and wouldn’t want to release false information to the general public. Officials did drop one hint, saying that they believe that a natural gas-fired heater that was on-site could be involved in the creation of the explosion.

Damage done to the Oakland Wastewater Treatment Plant, not including the vehicle cleaning bay, was minimal with a garage door knocked off its track, cracked windows and broken and loose bricks being the most major complaints. No estimates on the repair of the damage caused were made.

The plant’s approximately 80 employees continued work that day, with no evacuations and reportedly no loss of efficiency on the wastewater treatment proceedings.

Fire officials did go on record with what is perhaps the most reassuring news to come out of all of this, saying that the explosion appears to have been an accident.