Explosion at Pennsylvania Army Depot Kills One, Injures Four
An explosion in the paint building at Pennsylvania’s Letterkenny Army Depot on Thursday, July 19, caused the death on one civilian worker, while five others were injured.
Eric Byers, 29, of Satillo, Pennsylvania, was working in Building 350, the paint shop, at 7:15 a.m. at the 17,500 acre depot just northwest of Chambersburg.
The Lehigh County Coroner’s Office told Fox News that Byers had been handling chemicals when an explosion caused a flash fire.
According to NBC News, the fire was contained, but not before two workers sustained injuries that left them in critical but stable condition. Those two, plus one other employee, were airlifted to Baltimore-area hospitals for burn treatment.
Two other civilian employees were transported by ambulance to Chambersburg Hospital, where they were treated and released.
According to NBC, Letterkenny Army Depot posted this notice on its Facebook page at 8:30 a.m. on July 19, but took it down soon after:
“There has been an explosion in the industrial area at Bldg 350, Letterkenny Army Depot. The incident is contained and will not affect depot operations or workforce safety elsewhere.
“There were injuries that fire and emergency services have treated and individuals have been transported to medical facilities.”
A notice was also posted at 8:01 a.m. saying, “LEAD employees – please do not post or share any information regarding the incident at 350 on Facebook or with any media outlets. Thank you.” That notice was also removed.
On Friday, July 20, Depot Commander, Col. Stephen Ledbetter posted a statement that said, in part:
“It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of a dedicated member of our LEAD family who was injured in Thursday’s explosion.
“The entire Letterkenny family is mourning this loss.
“We continue to keep his family in our hearts and prayers.”
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf issued a statement about the explosion:
“My first concern is for the expedient treatment of those injured and the safety of those working or visiting Letterkenny,” Wolf said.
“I have been in touch with the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, which has been working with county emergency officials to be sure the state is doing everything it can to help in this situation,” he said.
“First responders have been on the scene since just after the explosion and have advised that it was contained to a warehouse area. I am receiving updates to ensure that all needs are being met,” Wolf said.
At a press conference, Ledbetter said that they were treating the explosion as an industrial accident. He said the depot would do an internal safety investigation, and OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, would also investigate.
Building 350 will be closed until Sunday, July 22, but the rest of the base has already resumed normal operation.