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Propane tank explosion critically injures McCook man

The Red Willow County Sheriff’s Office said Thatcher Skolout was critically injured in a explosion Monday.

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - The Red Willow County Sheriff’s Office said Thatcher Skolout was critically injured in a explosion Monday.

It happened at 5:15 p.m. about three to four miles south of McCook on Highway 83 near a home.

Sheriff Kevin Darling said neighbors in the area reported the explosion, but couldn’t determine the exact source. Upon arrival, law enforcement discovered a propane tank exploded. Skolout was in the process of converting the tank into a smoker. Law enforcement said it appeared he took the precautions to use water inside the tank to displace the vapor but was apparently insufficient to displace all vapors. While attempting to cut the tank with a cutter torch, the vapors were ignited causing the explosion. He was wearing a respirator at the time and had taken other precautions as well.

Paramedics with the McCook Fire Department transported Skolout to the community hospital. From there, he was air-flighted to CHI Health Good Samaritan in Kearney in critical condition.

Skolout is in the ICU in Kearney where he is expected to remain sedated at least for the next 5 days as medical personnel work to reduce the swelling on his brain. His wife, Shelby Skolout, wants to thank those who helped Thatcher get to the facility and note that the next 72 hours are critical for his recovery.