On Monday, January 16th, 2012, a frightening work-related explosion took place in West Haverstraw when a gas line was struck. The explosion destroyed one home, and four workers were injured. The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration are naturally investigating the explosion, but it has been reported that a criminal investigation is also underway.

The explosion occurred when workers from a Westchester-based contractor were installing Verizon’s new FiOS service in West Haverstraw. Officials from Orange and Rockland utilities say that the workers were digging and did not know the location of the underground gas lines.

Two firefighters from Haverstraw and two workers for Orange and Rockland Utilities were on the site when the explosion occurred. All four men were thrown back about 40 feet in the blast. Ken Patterson, a volunteer firefighter, suffered burn injuries and broken bones and was still at Westchester Medical Center at the time of this report. While their injuries are unknown, the other 3 workers had all been treated and released by Tuesday.

No information about the investigation is yet available, but many different authorities are involved both locally and federally. The investigations hope to uncover any threats to worker safety and determine if there was criminal wrongdoing in the case. There have been many concerns following the blast about how safety procedures were followed and any potential violations. Some residents of the area expressed concern about any further work while these issues remain unresolved.

The Westchester workers’ compensation layers with Markhoff & Mittman, PC extend our wishes for a speedy recovery to all 4 workers who were injured in this terrifying incident.