Two Employees Severely Burned in New York Repair Shop Explosion

Two Employees Severely Burned in New York Repair Shop Explosion

State police said a technician at Steyer's Hudson Valley Automotive, Inc. in Saugerties, NY, was using a chop saw when sparks ignited the gases above a 275-gallon waste oil tank. Two of the workers at the shop sustained serious burns while a third person suffered a minor burn.

State police said a technician at Steyer’s Hudson Valley Automotive, Inc. in Saugerties, NY, was using a chop saw when sparks ignited the gases above a 275-gallon waste oil tank. Two of the workers at the shop sustained serious burns while a third person suffered a minor burn.

Below is the article as it appeared on the DAILY FREEMAN website.

Saugerties explosion injures three

Published: Tuesday, April 13, 2010
By Paula Ann Mitchell
Freeman staff

Firefighters and police work at the Steyer’s Hudson Valley Automotive in Saugerties where three people were injured in an explosion Monday afternoon. (Freeman photo by Tania Barricklo)SAUGERTIES — A powerful explosion Monday afternoon at an automotive garage seriously injured two men, both of whom were airlifted to hospitals for severe burns.

State police said one of the mechanics at Steyer’s Hudson Valley Automotive, Inc., at 468 Malden Turnpike, was using a chop saw to cut a piece of steel when the sparks ignited the gases above a 275-gallon waste oil tank. The accident happened at around 1:30 p.m.

Brian Wright, 45, of Malden, suffered serious facial burns and was being treated at Albany Medical Center. Wright is an employee at the garage.

Another employee, Scott Kammerzell, 39, of Palenville, was burned the full extent of his body, from head to toe, according to state police at Ulster Senior Investigator Peter J. Kusminsky.

Kammerzell was flown to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, where there is a burn unit.

A third man, 21-year-old Scott Steyer, the garage owner’s grandson, suffered a minor burn to his right ear. He was transported by an Ulster County Sheriff’s Office vehicle to Benedictine Hospital in Kingston.

A secretary was also in the building at the time. She escaped unharmed.

Kusminsky said state police arrived at the scene within 10 minutes.

“Both of the subjects were being extinguished. They (the fire department) were wetting the one down. The other was being sprayed with a fire extinguisher,” Kusminsky said.

Laura Weckler, the mother of burn victim Brian Wright, called the Freeman Monday afternoon, looking for answers.

Weckler lives in Florida. She was notified of the accident by her son’s girlfriend. Weckler then checked the Freeman Web site for more information.

“I just need to know how bad the explosion was,” she said, adding that she had spoken to her son earlier in the day after the explosion.

“I did get to talk to him, although he couldn’t speak for very long. The nurse told me they were second-degree burns. They’re waiting for a plastic surgeon. I want to know how bad it is and if (skin) grafts are needed,” said Weckler, who was planning to fly out to Albany to be with her son.

“It’s a terrible call to get, but I think he’s going to be OK,” she said.

The garage, which is owned by Nick Steyer, sustained little structural damage, according to Centerville-Cedar Grove Fire Chief Randy Ricks.

“The building inspector was there and determined there was no structural damage. The doors were open in the building,” Ricks said.

He said firefighters applied about 50 bags of Spedi-dry, an absorbent, to stop the oil spill from spreading. Members of the state Department of Environmental Conservation spill response team also were at the scene and advised the owner on how to further contain the spill.

Ricks said two other fire departments — Mount Marion and Malden-West Camp —responded. Saugerties and Woodstock were on standby.

He said there was no real fire to speak of.

“There were some smoldering objects from the fire. It had blown itself out with the explosion.”

Ricks said there were two cars in the garage at the time of the blast. One of the cars was badly damaged, while the other sustained only minor damage.

Also responding to Monday’s explosion were the Saugerties town police and the Ulster County Sheriff’s Office.

According to Ulster County Undersheriff Frank Faluotico, the garage owner is the father of Joe Steyer, who is a sheriff’s deputy and the dive master of the Ulster County Sheriff’s Dive Team.

“It’s a family-owned business,” said Faluotico. “They’ve been in Saugerties for 40-something years,” he said.

To read this article on the DAILY FREEMAN website, visit

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