Man killed in explosion identified

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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Investigators on Tuesday identified the man killed Monday after a fuel storage tank exploded in Pymatuning Township.

Brian Krauss, 37, of New Castle, died from head and pelvis injuries he suffered when the explosion threw him from an elevated walkway to the ground, the Mercer County coroner said.

Coroner’s investigators ruled the death accidental and said Krauss was pronounced dead at the scene. Krauss owned Krauss Portable Welding.

Krauss was contracted to weld scaffolding onto some diesel fuel storage tanks at the Brownies Oil Co. storage facility on Reynolds Industrial Park Road.

The business is a division of Reed Oil Company.

The 10,000-gallon fuel storage tank Krauss was working on exploded, sending the tank over power lines and came down in the front yard of nearby home. Thick black smoke billowed from the tanks.

“Just the fact that somebody was there welding around fuel tanks, that would scare me,” said Pymatuning Township Police Chief Eric Baugher said. “But I’ve been told by people that know a lot more than me that fuel oil is not explosive.”

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said the tank could hold 10,000 gallons of fuel but were unsure how much was in the tank when it exploded. The DEP said their investigation could take several weeks to complete.

Reed Oil is responsible for the cleanup, officials said.

“Our investigative team, what we’re doing out there is seeing where the diesel fuel went, how bad it is,” said DEP Community Relations Coordinator Gary Clark. “They want to do some checking of soil. They’ll figure out where it’s going and where it’s been. And we’ll have a better idea of the impact to the environment.”

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