The man who died in the explosion was identified as Keith Milacek, 33, according to Amy Elliot, with the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. “The cause of death is pending at this time,” Elliott said. “They are conducting a full toxicology screen before they rule. The screen can take four to six weeks.” Milacek was a 2002 graduate of Oklahoma Bible Academy and a 2008 graduate of Oklahoma State University with bachelor of science degrees in biology and business. He also earned a master of business administration degree, according to an Enid News & Eagle 2010 article. He was operations manager for Centennial Farms LLC, Waukomis. He was in the Oklahoma Army National Guard and has a 14-month-old son.
An individual was at an oil tank battery site when an explosion occurred, Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles said. An SUV was involved in the explosion about 2 1/2 miles west of Waukomis and one mile south on Flynn between Garland and Wheatridge. Niles said local authorities contacted Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s oil and gas division to investigate the explosion. Niles on Thursday morning named Berexco LLC, based in Wichita, Kan., as the site owner. Niles said the individual did not work for the company. He said the explosion “was enough to rattle the windows in the area.” Bison resident Erin Wulffenstein said she was standing in her driveway when she saw the explosion. “All the sudden this one set of clouds turned pink,” she said. “I told my husband and friend of ours to take a look at it. It lasted about 20 seconds before being sucked down and it was followed by a giant mushroom of black smoke.” Wulffenstein said the smoke reminded her of something she saw in the movies. “The smoke lasted for a while,” she said. “It was black and kept getting blacker and blacker and bigger and bigger.” Wulffenstein said it was about 10 minutes before she heard sirens from authorities. “I knew something exploded but we weren’t sure what, then my husband said it had to be a tank battery,” she said. “Once I inquired, we learned that’s what it was and it made sense because all that oil was burning. I thought it was not something you see around here, ever.” Wulffenstein said she was upset to know the explosion resulted in a fatality but she wants to know what happened./ Niles said an examiner from the Oklahoma State Medical Examiner’s Office was on scene at about 9:30 p.m., along with a state fire marshal’s investigator.
The incident is being treated as an ongoing investigation because officials are unsure whether it was an industrial accident or not, Niles said. “We will have to wait on the medical examiner’s office to determine the cause and nature of death,” Niles said. “Deputies will be doing follow-ups the next couple of days and wait for the medical examiner’s report.” Emergency personnel from Waukomis and Drummond fire departments stood by in case of additional fire flareups. Garfield County Sheriff’s Office deputies also were on the scene. “We don’t think there are any hazards (with the safety of the site),” Niles said. “The Waukomis and Drummond fire departments did a great job of containment and shut everything in so there are no leaks.”