One killed, one injured in Armstrong County explosion

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One man was killed and another injured in an explosion Thursday morning at West Penn Energy Services Co. in Plumcreek.

Authorities identified the victims as Gregory Bish, 26, of Ford City, who was killed, and Jeffrey Riggle, who was transported to a local hospital. Both men were employees of West Penn Energy Services.

State police in Kittanning said the explosion occurred at 8:35 a.m. and is being investigated by police and representatives of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Mr. Bish and Mr. Riggle were attempting to unfreeze a pipe fitting at the rear of a water truck. Using a propane torch both Mr. Bish and the co-worker were applying heat to the pipe fitting when an explosion occured. Bish was struck with a plate as it tore away from the tank, causing Bish to become airborne over a 7-foot fence for a distance of 62 feet.

West Penn Energy Services provides services to the oil and gas industry. President Michael J. Zentz said the fatal accident is the first in the company's history and that he had spoken with family members of both men.

Mr. Bish, who was interviewed for a story in the Post-Gazette in October, worked from gas patch to gas patch as Marcellus Shale drilling picked up. A native of Ford City and an avid hunter and fisherman, he said he couldn't imagine moving his family from the mountains and river he loved.


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