Investigators from the Texas Railroad Commission said a worker was using a cutting torch when a Central Texas oilfield storage tank exploded and critically injured him.
The worker was reportedly removing bolts from a catwalk at the top of the tank near New Baden.
The 12,000-gallon tank at an abandoned well contained oil sludge when it ignited Wednesday.
The worker was wearing a safety harness and was thrown clear during the explosion.
But the safety line swung him into the tank and face first into hot steel.
The fire then burned through the safety strap and the worker plunged to the ground.
He was brought to a Houston hospital and reported to be in critical condition.
His name hasn’t been released.
The tank was located 100 miles northeast of Austin.