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One dead after explosion at C.A. Garner

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By Erin Melwing

News Intern

A Pendleton man lost his life and another was injured during a propane tank explosion at the C.A. Garner Veneer plant in Smithfield on May 31.

Michael Guse, 50, and Rick DeBurger, both plant managers, were unloading a propane tank from DeBurger’s pick-up truck when they noticed a leak. Guse removed his shirt to shut the valve and the static electricity from the shirt ignited the tank, according to Guy Coombs, Lake Jericho Fire Department Chief. Guse died as a result of his injuries on June 5 at the University of Louisville Hospital.

Henry County EMS received a call around 10:26 p.m. on 31 concerning the explosion at 2125 Lake Jericho Road and were the first on the scene. Lake Jericho Fire Department, New Castle Fire Department and Campbellsburg Fire Department arrived shortly after.

Henry County EMS called for a helicopter to land on site at the plant, but there was an issue with radio contact between ground crews and the pilot. The helicopter pilot landed on his own and set the tail section on the bank which crushed the fiberglass under the tail of the helicopter, according to Coombs. A second helicopter was called to land at Baptist Hospital Northeast in La Grange where Guse would arrive by ambulance.

“The main reason we did that was because there was a problem landing the helicopter down there and we wanted a secure landing site,” Scott McClamroch, Henry County EMS Director, said.

The patient with less severe burns, DeBurger, was transported by ambulance to University of Louisville Hospital around 10:40 p.m. Guse, severely burned, was taken by ambulance to Baptist Hospital Northeast helipad around 10:50 p.m. and then flown to the burn center at the University of Louisville Hospital, according to Coombs and EMS reports.

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