Man killed in Mercer County plant explosion identified

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Authorities in Mercer County are investigating an industrial plant explosion that killed a New Castle man Monday afternoon.

The blast occurred around 5:30 p.m. at Brownies Oil Co., a division of Reed Oil Co., at Reynolds Industrial Park Road and Crestview Drive in Pymatuning near Greenville.

The county coroner's office identified the worker Tuesday as Brian Krauss, 37. He died of head and pelvic injuries suffered after the explosion threw him from an elevated walkway, according to the coroner's office, which ruled the death accidental.

A 10,000-gallon fuel tank exploded, spilling 7,500 gallons of fuel, which was contained in a dike around the tank, Transfer fire Chief Phillip Steele said. The fuel started to consume itself, he said, but the fire department extinguished it quickly.

"The whole thing was probably over in 15 minutes," he said.

Propane tanks also on site weren't involved in the explosion, township police Chief Eric Baugher said.

Mr. Krauss was a self-employed contract welder who had done work at the plant before, the police chief said.

No other injuries were reported, and it appears Mr. Krauss was the only person on site, authorities said.

Reed Oil chief financial officer Mike Tappe said the company is working with authorities as they investigate what caused the explosion.

The tank that exploded landed across Crestview, in the front yard of Mary Kress, 54, about 30 feet from her house.

She said she heard the explosion and could see a "ball of flames" rising into the air. The tank hit a pine tree, bounced and landed. Had it bounced again, she said, it would have hit her family's vehicles.

The state Department of Environmental Protection will aid in the investigation. A spokesman was not immediately available.

breaking - region - neigh_north

Molly Born: or 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede. First Published August 19, 2013 10:45 PM


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