Authorities Determine Likely Cause Of Deadly Area Farm Explosion

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CORYELL COUNTY (July 3, 2014) An explosion in building Sunday on a Coryell County farm that killed a McGregor man and injured two others evidently occurred as the men filled large plastic bags with a highly combustible gas, which they planned to take out into a field to ignite, investigators said Thursday.

(Photo by Casey Wood)

Charl Wynard Swart, 55, of McGregor, was pronounced dead at the scene a little after 6:15 p.m. Sunday at Huffman Farms at 5601 Mother Neff Parkway, just inside the Coryell County line.

Steve Langenegger, 50, and Jan Vanmerwe, 24, both of McGregor, were injured.

Langenegger remains in serious condition at Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest Medical Center and Vanmerwe is in serious condition at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Coryell County Chief Deputy Sheriff Joe Blakley said Thursday.

Experts from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Coryell County deputies investigated the explosion.

At this point they believe the men were in the farm’s shop filling plastic bags with highly combustible acetylene, which is commonly used in welding and to cut steel, and then placing the bags into a large plastic container, Blakely said.

The men planned to take the bags “out into a field and ignite them just to see the explosion,” Blakely said in a press release Thursday.

“At some point during the filling of these bags something sparked, setting off the acetylene, causing a large explosion killing one man and seriously injuring the other two,” he said.

The case remains open, however, pending forensic findings from the BATF, Blakely said.

The metal building in which the explosion occurred did not sustain heavy damage, but there were indications that shrapnel from the blast left holes in the metal building.

Huffman Farms is a major agricultural producer in the Coryell and McLennan county areas and the family has been farming in the area for many years, Blakley said