Haven, a small town 20 minutes southwest from Hutchinson, is home to a little more than 1,000 citizens. On April 14 however, it was home to a pipeline fire and explosions at a local gas plant.
Adam Weishaar of Reno County Emergency Management gave a summary of what happened. “Emergency services were dispatched to 13114 S. Kent Road, the Tenawa Plant. When emergency services arrived on scene they were met with flames and smoke,” Weishaar said. “They reported hearing several explosions.”
The fire claimed no lives, but two burn victims.
“We had mutual aid from all our surrounding counties, as well as all of the Reno County fire district. The employees of the facility were able to get out the valves to control the flow of the liquid gas, which brought the flames down,” Weishaar said.
A Reno County press release from the day of the explosion said, “At the time of the fire and explosions, there were six employees from Tenawa/Haven Midstream and two contractors.”
Shock became a familiar emotion for Haven residents when news of the explosions got out.
“I was surprised when I heard of the explosion, you just don’t think something like that is going to happen,” said Benaiah Yoder, a Haven freshman. “I texted my friends and made sure they were all okay afterwards.”
Jevon Miller, another freshman from Haven, had a similar reaction.
“My initial reaction was pretty much like, ‘There’s no way.’ These kinds of situations don’t happen very often and so for it to be this close to home is a little bit scary,” Miller said.
Tricia Paramore, Department 4 Chairperson at Hutchinson Community College, had to evacuate her home due to the fires.
“The sheriff was going door-to-door to notify residents that they were expecting another explosion, so there was a mandatory evacuation of our side of Haven,” Paramore said. “Luckily, there was not a second explosion and we were able to get back into the house the next day.”
Paramore too said she felt somewhat shocked that her town was going through what had happened.
“It was a little surreal to see the Haven High School parking lot full of police cars and emergency response vehicles when I was driving by,” Paramore said. “My husband, Lonnie, teaches at Haven and was teaching when the explosion occurred.”
According to Jill Bronaugh, the public information manager for the state fire marshal, the cause of the initial fire is still unknown.