PGW worker killed in blast was new to job

A Philadelphia firefighter moves a hose line at Tuesday night's gas main fire on Torresdale Avenue, near Longshore Avenue, in Tacony. (Steven M. Falk / Staff Photographer)

The PGW worker killed in the gas main explosion in Northeast Philadelphia Tuesday night had been on the job for about a year, officials say.

Officials said Mark Keeley, 19, died in the blast. The Cardinal Dougherty High School grad had recently joined PGW where his father also worked.

Four other PGW works were injured in the blast, three critically. Two firefighters also were hurt.

The cause of the explosion on the 6900 block of Torresdale Avenue has not been determined.

Keeley was not looking forward to going to work on Tuesday. Before noon he posted to his Facebook page: "I Wish PGW Shut Down For The Rain."

Investigators and clean up crews this morning picked through the rubble at scene, which, with its collapsed buildings and burned vehicles, resembled a war zone.

The Philadelphia Fire Marshal will have primary oversight in the investigation, but the state Public Utilities Commission, the National Transportation Safety Board and the Philadelphia Gas Commission also will be involved, said PGW spokesman Doug Oliver.

"We don't want to prejudge what happened," Oliver said. "When these events happen, it's saddening, it's tragic."

He said this was PGW's first fatal blast of its kind in 31 years, when seven were killed in an explosion in a Bridesburg taproom and rowhouse.

The company operates 6,000 miles of gas lines, most of it cast iron and replaces 18 miles of it yearly based on age and condition, Oliver said, PGW spends about $60 million yearly maintaining its gas lines.

PGW encourages customers to call when they smell gas, and employees should arrive within an hour to investigate those calls, Oliver said.


Inquirer staff writer Sam Wood contributed to this article.

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