Lightning Strike Ignites Massive Fire At Bucks County Chemical Plant
By Steve Beck, Al Novack
CROYDON, Pa. (CBS) –- A fire police officer died after suffering a heart attack after leaving the scene of a chemical plant fire in Bucks County that was caused by a lightning strike early Wednesday morning.
The fire started at about 3:30 a.m. at the Dow Chemical Plant located in the 3100 block of State Road in Croydon, Pa. The fire reached three alarms before being placed under control at about 7:25 a.m.
A fire police officer, identified by the Bristol Fire Department as David Wintz, was near the scene directing traffic when he started feeling ill. Wintz went home, but was later taken to Aria Health’s Torresdale Hospital where he died of an apparent heart attack.
Wintz, 65, is said to have had reoccurring heart problems and was given a pacemaker about a year ago. He was a veteran volunteer of 50 years in the fire service.
Authorities say lightning struck two large tanks containing chemicals ethyl acrylate and butyl acrylate. The chemical vapors were released into the air.
Bucks County officials say some of the symptoms included minor throat or eye irritation, headaches, and nausea.
Shortly before noon, County officials said the vapors in the air were at a minimum and area residents were advised that they may resume normal activities at this time; but should continue to monitor the situation for any changes.
Cleanup is underway, and county officials say the air will continue to clear. The county will continue to provide updates as they become available.
As a result of the fire, all schools in the Bristol Borough School District were closed for the day on Wednesday and the United States Post Office canceled all mail delivery on Wednesday due to the fire.
All employees of the Dow Chemical Plant were evacuated safely.