“Rescue workers can only work in 15 minute intervals,” Director of Public Safety Fred Harran of the Bensalem Police Department said Wednesday as recovery efforts continued for Liberty Gas’s co-owner Joseph Vigilante.
The gas station located on the 1200 block of Bristol Pike had a gas tank explosion Tuesday evening just before 5 p.m. when two men, Vigilante and employee Frank Tomasiello were believed to be conducting routine maintenance.
Tomasiello was rushed to the hospital with 45 percent of burns on his body. He remains in critical, but stable condition as of Wednesday.
Crew are worked to remove “two-feet of debris.” Teams of two went into a “dangerous” area with a fourth rescue team on standby, Harran explained.
“You’re limited on your movements and what you have down there as resources..It will take slow, methodical work to excavate Joe and to get him out ”
Harran explained the conditions as “dangerous for rescues workers,” with part of the vault deemed unsafe. After more than 24 hours, the recovery mission was successful.
Vigilante was inside a vault that houses an 8,000 gallon gas tank more than 10 feet underground. Crews worked the majority of the day on Wednesday ventilating the area to lower LEL or fume levels, according to an update Chief Battalion Chief Rob Sponheimer of Bensalem gave around 5 a.m.
“Our goal now (is) to help bring closure to the family and start the healing process,” Harran said.
Crews drain Liberty’s two remaining gas tanks, and an “all night operation” will be conducted for a proper clean up process.
“The investigation will continue, and it will be a couple days at least until we are able to give a good description of what happened and what we found upon entry.”
Stay tuned for updates on WBCB 1490 AM.