BENSALEM, Pennsylvania – Pennsylvania crews turned to rescue mission into a recovery effort after hours of trying to contact a worker trapped in a gas station in Bensalem when a blast occurred.
An underground tank inside of a vault that surrounds the tank exploded around 5 p.m. Tuesday, rocking the Liberty Gas station along the 1200 block of Bristol Pike, fire officials said.
The blast left 2 people injured, Bensalem Township Director of Public Safety Fred Harran said. One man was rescued and rushed to a nearby hospital in critical condition with serious burns, Harran said.
A second man was trapped under heavy concrete blown apart in the blast. First responders spent 12 hours trying to contact him.
Two firefighters were lowered into the hole but were pulled back because of lingering gas fumes. Around 5 a.m. Wednesday, crews stopped trying to rescue the man because gas levels in the air were too high, firefighters said.
It appears the men were carrying out work on an underground tank when the explosion took place. The exact cause of the blast remained under investigation Wednesday.
Harran said there’s a concern that a second explosion could happen. Heavy machinery arrived that lifted away large, broken concrete slabs. Crews continued to work late Tuesday night into Wednesday morning to rescue the worker. Crews removed about 8,000 gallons of fuel from the tank.
Officials urged drivers to avoid Bristol Pike up to Interstate 95 as they planned to close lanes Wednesday once they resumed work to recover the worker. There are two other underground tanks at the gas station.
Firefighters from Philadelphia and other surrounding towns responded to the call.
Ten families who live nearby evacuated to safer ground but were allowed back into their homes overnight.