The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

December 25, 2013

Explosion destroys Lochgelly business

— An explosion that destroyed Auto Recycling in Lochgelly Friday night and led emergency responders to evacuate several Lochgelly residents from their homes, injured the owner of the recycling center but did not spread to other structures, Fayette County officials reported Saturday.

Auto Recycling owner Ronald Paine was at Plateau Medical Center Saturday due to burns he received Friday.

Paine, who said he expected to be released from the hospital Sunday, reported that his wife, Connie, noticed the building was on fire Friday evening. Paine said he ran out to the fire in order to save one of three loaders.

“We got it away — that one,” said Paine. “We lost two of them. I’d had them for a long time.”

Paine said his arm was burned when he was climbing the ladder onto his loader.

“I didn’t even feel it, then,” he said. “A little bit later, I felt it.”

Around eight propane tanks and oxygen tanks exploded in the building.

“It just blew up,” he said. “The heat blew them up. You could hear them when they popped.”

Although several homes were evacuated, none of them caught fire, Fayette Emergency Operations Center dispatchers reported Saturday.

Paine said the building was a “total loss” and was uninsured.

“I think it’s just a sad little night,” he said. “That’s all.”

He believes the fire was caused by gloves that had been placed on a heater to dry.

“They put them in there to warm them up, dry them overnight,” he said. “But this time it didn’t work.”

The building was on the property when the Paines purchased it and was constructed mostly of wood, he added. Paine said he didn’t employ anyone at the center but that he paid two licensed workers for jobs they performed inside the unit.

The incident was reported around 7:45 p.m. Friday, and crews from Oak Hill and Fayetteville fire department had put out the flames by 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Fayette officials reported.

— Jessica Farrish