Mesa Del Man Dies In Explosion

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A Mesa del Caballo man died Sunday evening after an explosion at his home.

Loyd "Jimmy" Harris, 24, was airlifted by helicopter to Scottsdale Healthcare Osborn at about 5 p.m. Sunday, where he later died.

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Senior picture of Jimmy Harris from the 2000 Payson High School yearbook.

Houston Mesa Fire Department Captain Chuck Jacobs said it appears Harris was using a 55-gallon steel drum that once was used to store flammable fuel as a makeshift workbench while using a cutting torch.

Jacobs said the drum was sealed, causing the tank to explode as it heated up. The lid of the drum landed 150 feet from the barrel.

The fire captain said the torch ignited the residual fumes.

Harris was a 2000 Payson High School graduate.

Jacobs said if a steel drum that once stored fuel is going to be used as a workbench, it should be well-ventilated without a lid.

"This drum was sealed up," Jacobs said. "It blew the lid up. There was a tremendous amount of pressure in that drum."

A small fire from the explosion spread to an all-terrain vehicle and started a small grass fire.

Jacobs said the fire also extended to the residence and singed the outside of the home.

According to a press release from the Houston Mesa Fire District, the sound and the concussion from the explosion was heard and felt throughout the neighborhood.

A large number of residents rushed over to assist, controlling the fire and attempting to care for Harris until emergency personnel arrived at the location.

The Houston Mesa Fire Department, Payson Fire Department Lifestar Ambulance, Gila County Sheriff's Office and the Payson Police Department responded to the explosion.

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