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Center man injured in BNI gas explosion

1/22/09 (Thu)

A Jan. 11 explosion at the BNI coal mine near Center caused injury to an employee, sending him to a

Bismarck hospital where he remains hospitalized. The injured man is Trent Sack, 35, Center, an oiler on the 757 dragline "Big Jake."

At approximately 12:50 p.m. that day, employees were attempting to melt some ice on one of the dragline’s shoes by using a propane heater, according to Mike Hummel, BNI president and general manager.

According to Hummel, due to a lack of oxygen for the heater, the flame went out. Sack went to check it, removing a cover under which gas had accumulated, setting off an explosion that threw him about 17 feet. Sack sustained multiple fractures to his right arm, hand and leg. He also had multiple fractures to his ribs and neck vertebra and injuries to his head, but suffered no burns.

The Oliver County Ambulance transported Sack to the St. Alexius Medical Center, Bismarck. After a Jan. 13 visit with Sack, a BNI employee for six-and-a-half years, Hummel said that Sack’s prognosis is good.

"He’s alert and eager to get back to work, but that’s going to take some time," Hummel said.