Cause of explosion, fire in Ragley remains mystery

A multi-agency investigation into a tank explosion and fire at an inactive oil field site, that claimed the life of a Longville teen, remains undetermined at this time, however, the victim’s presence near the tanks moments before the incident has been identified as a contributing factor in the case.

Around 5 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28, Beauregard Fire District #2 responded to a call for an explosion and fire located in the area of Cordial Lane and S. Cooley Road in Longville, which is near the Ragley area.

Witness statements indicated two tank batteries on an inactive oil field site exploded, one after the other, with one traveling several hundred yards away from its starting location. Firefighters located the body of a 14-year-old girl near the displaced tank. Local authorities have identified the victim as Zalee Day, who lived within eyesight of the tanks.

Additional witness statements indicated the teen was seen in the immediate area of the tanks in the moments before the blasts and subsequent fire.

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. 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. In addition, going onto oil site properties without permission is considered trespassing.