2 hurt when device explodes

July 01, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two construction workers were hit with flying debris Monday morning after a torch-like device used to burn brush exploded at a new housing subdivision off Tavern Road, officials said.

Vernon Masters, 49, of Inwood and Raul Gutierrez, 23, of Middletown, Va., were taken to City Hospital following the 9:45 a.m. accident, officials said.

Masters was admitted for observation after being struck in the face and chest with debris, and Gutierrez was treated and released from the hospital after being hit in the leg, officials said.


The machine the men were using blends air and diesel fuel, and when the mixture comes out at the end of a pipe it ignites, said Capt. David Brining of the Martinsburg Fire Department.

"It's kind of like a big torch," said Brining.

Construction crews had been using the machine to burn brush at the new Timber Leaf subdivision along Tavern Road, and turned it off to refuel it, Brining said.

Officials believe vapors accumulated in the pipe while the machine was off. When it was started, it exploded and shattered the pipe, said Brining.

Masters, who works for Markle's Escavating and Hauling in Bunker Hill, did not appear to be seriously injured, officials said.

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