By Michael Roknick
Herald Business Editor
PINE TOWNSHIP —
A Pine Township businessman is lucky to be alive after hastily running out of a company building just before it was rocked by an explosion Thursday night due to a blaze, a firefighter said.
Ryan Hall, co-owner of Hall’s Safety Equipment on 139 Gasper Road in Pine Township, was working on a race car in a separate garage area connected to the business office, said Chris Holmes, fire chief of Pine Township Engine Co. The business sells safety equipment to utility companies and the tree trimming industry and the work being done by Hall was not company business.
Around 10 p.m. Hall drilled a hole in the car’s fuel tank that sparked a fire, Holmes said.
“It caught the fuel tank on fire then it caught the car on fire,’’ Hall said in a phone interview Friday morning with The Herald. “I grabbed a fire extinguisher and used it all up and it didn’t seem to help much.’’
After seeing the fire spread Hall said he raced out of the building and shut the door behind him.
“Ten seconds later the gas tank blew up and it blew out all of the garage windows,’’ Hall said. “I could feel the percussion of the explosion.’’
Shutting the door after fleeing the building likely spared the business, Holmes said.
“Thank God he closed that door on his way out,’’ Holmes said. “The fire would have spread to the business side of the building if he had not done that.’’
In addition to Pine Township, fire departments from Grove City, Mercer, Harrisville, Jackson Center and Springfield Township responded to the blaze. Extra fire departments were called in because the area has no hydrant and tankers were needed to extinguish the fire, Holmes said.
The fire was ruled an accident and Holmes estimated the damage would run between $80,000 to $100,000. He added Hall was lucky to escape just in time.
In looking at the damage, Hall said it pretty much gutted the garage. But he realized how fortunate he was.
“It could have been a lot worse,’’ he said. “I’m glad to be here.’’