Tragedy struck in Connecticut shortly after 8:00 a.m. Friday morning.
Two workers were killed in an apparent steam pipe explosion at a Veteran’s Affairs medical facility in West Haven, according to the AP.
2 killed in explosion, 3 injured
An investigation into the cause of the explosion is ongoing, involving both state police and the FBI, the Hartford Courant reported.
Three other VA employees suffered “serious” but not life-threatening injuries after responding to the explosion. They have not been identified.
The workers who were killed have not yet been named, but one was an employee of the VA and a Navy veteran, The New York Times reported. The other was a contractor who worked for Mulvaney Mechanical, the firm said.
The explosion occurred in the basement of a maintenance building, where workers were replacing a leaking steam pipe – apparently a common problem at the facility, according to the Times. A hospital official said that the pipe exploded while they were refilling it with steam.
No VA hospital patients were injured in the explosion and the main medical buildings were not affected, VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said in a statement.
The widow of the Navy veteran who was killed shared his reasons for working there, a hospital official said: “This is the reason he came in. As a veteran, he wanted to take care of fellow veterans, he wanted to give back to those men and women who fought so hard. It’s moments like that that really tear at your heart and tear at your soul.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) responded to the tragic news on Twitter, writing, “My heart breaks for the West Haven VA community & staff impacted by this morning’s explosion. I’m visiting the site this afternoon & speaking to VA leadership about the causes & consequences of this tragedy.”
The senator also pointed out that the explosion highlights the fact that the West Haven VA facility, which was built in the 1950s, should be replaced. “This building is past its sell-by date,” he said, according to the AP.
Connecticut Gov. Ned LaMont (D) addressed the explosion at a press conference Friday and thanked the staff for their work during the pandemic. “On behalf of the people of Connecticut, today’s tragedy at the West Haven VA is like losing a member of the family. Our thoughts are with those we lost. We cannot thank the doctors, nurses and staff at the VA for every ounce of energy you have given to caring for our veterans,” he wrote on Twitter along with a video clip from the press conference.
The tragedy comes just after Veteran’s Day, on November 11.