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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 14231963 - Three Employees Die In Fire From Compressor Oil Leak

Accident: 14231963 -- Report ID: 0316400 -- Event Date: 02/15/1988
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
10296610802/16/19887011Canaan Valley Resorts, Incorporated
On February 13, 1988, the ski manager visited the compressor room and observed that Joy Compressor #4, Ariscrew compressor class RES 1200, serial #96-299, was running at a higher temperature than normal. No unusual noises were heard at this time. The manager, with the help of one of his employees, used a temperature meter to obtain several readings on compressor #4 and the adjacent one for comparison. It was decided to shut compressor #4 down and let it cool. On the morning of February 14, 1988, the five remaining air compressors (compressor #4 was still shut down) were used to make snow. Employee #2 and the manager discussed the probable causes of the temperature running high on compressor #4. It was decided to restart the compressor, and, if the temperature went up, shut it down and prepare to change the discharge spring the next day. Just shortly after 12:00 noon on February 14, 1988, Employees #1, #2, and #3 entered the compressor room and started compressor #4. Shortly after the compressor was started, the oil line from the air receiver sumps to the oil pumps separated from the end of a coupling that was held in place between two 90 degree elbows by a clamp and meshwire-type gasket. The oil, under pressure from the air receiver, sprayed into the area like a mist or fog. A flash fire occurred from an undetermined source of ignition. All three employees were seriously injured and died. A material failure of the meshwire gasket, which allowed the coupling to slip off the nipple between the two elbow fittings, possibly caused the discharge of oil. There is an ongoing study by the local Fire Marshall's Office and various consulting companies to determine the actual cause and source of ignition. None of these reports will be available for quite some time.
Keywords: burn, oil circuit breaker, compressor, flammable vapors, fire, equipment failure
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 102966108 Fatality Asphyxia Occupation not reported
2 102966108 Fatality Asphyxia Occupation not reported
3 102966108 Fatality Asphyxia Occupation not reported

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