Two people were airlifted to a Dallas burn center following a crude oil tank explosion in rural Smith County Thursday night.

At about 10:30 p.m. Thursday, firefighters responded to a ranch on County Road 419, near its intersection with County Road 420.

When the first firefighter arrived, he found a crude oil tank ablaze and heard people yelling for help,according to Jerry Garner, a spokesperson for the Lindale Fire Department.

Garner said the firefighter found two people who appeared to be "critically burned." Both were transported by helicopter to the Burn Center at Parkland Hospital in Dallas in unknown condition. Officials are withholding their identities.

Firefighters monitored the tank involved as the fire burned itself out early Friday. They also worked to keep a second, adjacent tank cool in order to prevent it from catching fire, Garner said.

The explosion occurred on a private ranch which leases land to an oil company, Garner said.

Crews from the Van, Lindale and Dixie fire departments responded.

The Smith County Sheriff's Office and Smith County Fire Marshal's Office are investigating the explosion. A cause has not been determined.

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