ELIZABETHTON — The investigation into the barrel explosion that seriously injured city employee Robert Lilly, 46, on Tuesday morning is continuing.
Lilly was cutting the top off the barrel with a plasma cutter when the barrel exploded at the city of Elizabethton’s garage at 729 S. Sycamore St.
Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier said his department has taken swab samples of the substance that was in the barrel. The sample will be sent to a lab for testing. Carrier said Don Cogan, a bomb and arson investigator with the Tennessee fire marshal’s office, also is looking into the accident and will produce a report of his findings.
Elizabethton Police Officer Eric Buck filed the initial incident report. He reported Supervisor Donald Frost told him the barrel had recently been used to store oil and diesel fuel. Frost said the barrel was empty except for a small amount of residue that may have been left in it.
Frost said a barrel Lilly had cut earlier in the day had been vented by Lilly before he cut into it. The barrel that exploded may not have been vented because the lid on the barrel was still intact and hadn’t been removed.
Buck said at the time of his report it was evident Lilly suffered severe facial and head injuries. He was transported by the Carter County Rescue Squad to Johnson City Medical Center.
Buck provided statements he had taken from witnesses at the scene to Cogan for his investigation.