The long history of Pennsylvania is rife with stories about the devastation fires or explosions can cause. Advancements in the safety and technology of these modern times means less explosions occur, but accidents do still happen. No one knows this better right now than the residents of Factoryville, Pennsylvania, who are mourning the loss of a valued neighbor and municipal worker.
The man died Monday evening near the Factoryville Borough Maintenance Building. The victim was on duty helping to perform a controlled burn when an unexpected explosion took his life. According to news reports, the victim was operating a skid steer loader while burning debris such as scrap wood and branches. The explosion occurred at approximately 6:30 p.m. and could be seen and felt for many miles.
Fire officials and state police began investigating the incident the following day. There are reports that the surveillance cameras located at the nearby Clinton Township Municipal Building caught the explosion on video, which should go a long way towards determining what caused the explosion.
Update: A separate news report has published findings that indicate the explosion was caused by the presence of a gas can in the burning debris. A deputy coroner stated that the victim perished due to "multiple traumatic injuries" from the explosion.
The victim's family is likely asking some serious questions at this point. "Why was there a gas can in the burn area?" "Who is responsible for the presence of the can?" "How could this accident have been avoided?" Perhaps the most important of these questions is this: "Who is ultimately responsible for this man's tragic death?"
Accidents resulting in fires or explosions happen all the time. However, this does not necessarily mean that no one could have prevented the incident. Speaking with a lawyer experienced in premises liability can help this family and others like it get the answers they need to move forward.
Source: PA Home Page, "Factoryville mourns maintenance manager after deadly explosion," Eric Deabill, Jan. 31, 2017