McCLURE - A Decatur Township man is in critical condition, according to a nursing supervisor at Lehigh Valley Hospital, after an incident involving a propane tank caused an explosion just before noon on Tuesday inside his garage in Decatur Township.
Fire Investigator Mike Force said Harry Bleyer, of 4116 U.S. 522, suffered second or third degree burns over 70 to 80 percent of his body. Force said Bleyer was taken to the Decatur Fire Co. grounds via a Fame EMS ambulance, where a medical helicopter landed to transport him to Lehigh Valley Hospital.
"It appears that Mr. Bleyer was trying to remove a valve from a propane cylinder," Force said.
Sentinel photo by KIERNAN M. SCHALK
A firefighter observes the shell of a garage where a propane tank explosion injured Harry Bleyer Tuesday, in Decatur Township, Fire Investigator Mike Force said.
Bleyer is a scrap-hauler and had several cylinders in the garage, Force said, but propane cylinders cannot be sold as scrap if they still have valves in them. In order to remove the valves, the tanks must be completely empty. In this case, Force said the cylinder was not completely empty, and an "explosion and flash fire ensued."
"The garage was closed up," Force said. "The force of the explosion blew the overhead door off the building, blew off the man door and caused (one) side of the garage to buckle out about eight inches."
Bleyer ran out of the garage and was assisted by neighbor Kathy Nace, Force said.
Force said the ignition source has not yet been identified and the fire is under investigation.
Decatur Fire Co. also was assisted at the scene by East Derry, Yeagertown, Junction, Granville and West Granville fire companies, Highland Park and Brooklyn hose companies, United Fire and Rescue and City Hook and Ladder.