State Fire Marshal: 14-year-old’s presence near oil tank ‘contributing factor’ in explosion

State Fire Marshal: 14-year-old’s presence near oil tank ‘contributing factor’ in explosion
Oil well explosion reported in Beauregard Parish (Source: Ward Six Fire Protection District No. One)

LONGVILLE, La. (KPLC) - The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office says a multi-agency investigation into the exact cause of an oil tank explosion that killed a 14-year-old girl Sunday continues, however, her “presence near the tanks moments before the incident has been identified as a contributing factor in the case.”

The explosion at the inactive oil field site caused the death of Longville teen Zalee Day. The accident happened around 5 p.m. in the area of Cordial Lane and S. Cooley Road.

Day lived within eyesight of the tanks, according to information from Ashley Rodrigue, public affairs director for the Fire Marshal’s Office.

Although the site was inactive, the tanks contained reserve barrels of crude oil, according to Rodrigue.

Day was seen in the area of the tanks moments before the explosion, Rodrigue said. Two of the tanks exploded, one after another, with one traveling several hundred yards.

Rodrique said Day’s body was found near the displaced tank.

“Following an extensive assessment of the scene involving State Fire Marshal deputies, Beauregard Parish Sheriff’s deputies and Louisiana State Police Emergency Services, investigators have determined the victim’s interaction with the tanks, both which contained reserve barrels of crude oil, contributed to the ignition,” Rodrigue said. “The victim’s final actions and the exact cause of the explosion and fire remains undetermined and under investigation.”

“All agencies involved, including the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality and the Department of Natural Resources, would like to remind residents that oil sites, active or not, as well as the equipment operating and stored on them, are dangerous,” Rodrigue said. “In addition, going onto oil site properties without permission is considered trespassing.”

The following is a statement released by the attorney of Zalee Day’s father, on his behalf:

The family has reviewed the KPLC story posted today on March 4, 2021. This tragic incident of February 28, 2021 is still under investigation and many questions have yet to be answered. The family is waiting on all of the information and evidence to be collected and reviewed before reaching any conclusions.

The family is extremely distressed about investigators releasing incomplete statements that cast blame upon the victim. Especially considering these premature conclusions were released less than 48 hours before their child’s funeral. The family is thankful for the outpouring of love, support, and prayers from the community.

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