A worker at a Maryland National Guard facility suffered severe burn injuries Friday afternoon when a fuel tank he was working on ignited and exploded.
The unidentified man is a civilian employee of the National Guard’s Readiness Center in Havre de Grace, a city on the Chesapeake Bay in northeastern Maryland. According to The Baltimore Sun, the worker was drilling holes in tanks that once held acetylene, a colorless and often odorless gas used by welders. The drilling work is part of the “demilling” process that renders discard tanks unusable.
The explosion occurred when the worker drilled into a tank that still contained acetylene gas.
“When he drilled into the acetylene tank to demill it, the [fuel] vapors ignited from the drilling and caused him to receive first and second-degree burns,” National Guard spokesperson Col. Charles Kohler told The Baltimore Sun.
An alert went out to Susquehanna Hose firefighters about 1:30 p.m. The firefighters were first to arrive on the scene. The blown-out tank was still burning when they arrived.
Aberdeen Fire Department EMS workers assisted also responded to the scene and took the victim, described as an “adult male patient” by ambulance to a helicopter pad at the National Guard facility. From there the victim was flown by a Maryland State Police Medevac to the Johns Hopkins Bayview Burn Center in Baltimore for treatment.
Medical authorities haven’t publicly announced the victim’s condition but said that he sustained severe burns.
Col. Kohler told The Baltimore Sun that the National Guard is currently conducting an investigation of the accident.
Source: The Baltimore Sun