Editorial: The tragic blast Tuesday morning at Ghent is yet another reminder how fragile is our lives, and how quickly life can be extinguished. It also is a poignant example of the extraordinary danger inherent in emergency work a fireman and a paramedic were among the four killed in the explosion. Five others were seriously hurt.
Time and time again Tuesday, we heard comments such as Ive been in there dozens of times, and I could have been there Tuesday morning. Or, Anyone could have been there. Those who frequented the Flat Top Little General Store could just as easily have been victims as those whose lives were snuffed out in an instant. Again, we shudder at the whims of timing, and look to our faiths and the power of divine control.
Captain Steve Broyles of the Princeton Fire Department echoed the agony across the region Tuesday. Its a sad event, especially for the volunteers and their families, he said.
The explosion occurred at about 10:45 a.m., just as a fire truck was pulling into the station in response to a report of a leak. State Fire Marshal Sterling Lewis said an above ground tank capable of holding 500 pounds of propane was being worked on at the time. A 500-pound tank with a leak can be like a bomb, Bluefield Fire Chief Tony Hodges said.
Tuesday, it was devastating. The explosion reduced the building to a pile of rubble, twisted beams and a sign showing the price of gasoline starting at $2.19 a gallon. But, propane, while volatile like so many other resources that are part of our lives, is safe when strict precautions are put in place.
Chief Hodges emphasized safe management. If someone suspects they have a leak of natural gas or propane, the best thing to do is to leave the area, whether it is their home or some other structure. Practical thinking always is vital. As Hodges said, those suspecting a leak shouldnt turn on the lights, or turn off the lights, or anything else that is electrical. Go to a neighbors house, or somewhere else to contact emergency services, and dont allow anyone else back into the structure until emergency service crews arrive, he said.
Living in a region of mining and other dangerous work, we understand tragedy and many of us have been affected by loss during our lives. But, however the number of times we have endured loss, its always a stunning shock, an unimaginable nightmare, a time to redouble our faith. Tuesday will be remembered by many who heard the thunderous blast and saw the carnage.
But Tuesday will never be forgotten by the families and friends of those who were killed and wounded.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Jan 31, 2007, 11:11