Fuel storage tank explodes, killing 1

mercer explosion
A diesel fuel storage tank exploded Monday, propelling the tank into the air and into a neighbor's yard.

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One man is dead after a fuel storage tank exploded Monday in Pymatuning Township.

Officers on the scene said the victim is a man in his 30’s. He was contracted to weld scaffolding onto some diesel fuel storage tanks.

The work was being done at the Brownies Oil Co. storage facility on Reynolds Industrial Park Road. The business is a division of Reed Oil Company.

Neighbor Mary Kress said she just finished cooking dinner and sat down to eat about 6 p.m. Monday evening when she heard a loud noise across the street, where several fuel storage tanks sit.

The 100,000-gallon fuel storage tank the man was working on blew sky high, over power lines and came down in the front yard of her home. She didn’t see it at first, but she did see lots of thick black smoke.

“I didn’t realize that was in my yard at that time. I called 911 and went flying out the door, cause she was saying what was going on, and stopped dead when I saw the tank sitting there, cause that’s like 30 feet from my kitchen,” said resident Mary Kress. “I’ve been here 20 years, and I don’t know if I want to live here anymore.”

Officials said although one man was killed, the explosion could have been worse.

“You have all kind of bad ideas of what could have happened, but I”m just glad it was not as bad as it could have been. But it was bad enough,” said Pymatuning Township Police Chief Eric Baugher.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection is cleaning up several dozen gallons of diesel fuel that spilled onto the ground, but officials said there’s no danger to the public, or any water supply.

The Mercer County Coroner and EMS, along with Pymatuning Township Police, continue to investigate what caused the explosion.

Still, other neighbors said it was an accident waiting to happen.

“And we even talked about, ‘oh what’s going to happen if one of those blow?’ I don’t even know what’s in them, you know,” said resident Darlene Peterson.

“That’s too close, it’s too close. The township should do something,” said Ray Peterson, who also witnessed the explosion.

The Peterson’s said there was another loud explosion from a different facility in the Reynolds Industrial Park about six weeks ago, which brought Pennsylvania DEP officials out to test the water and land in that area for radioactive material.

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