Two men were flown to Pittsburgh Mercy Health System on Thursday after a cylinder that heats human and industrial waste exploded at the city’s waste treatment plant.
Authorities on the scene said the two, Kenny Stiver and Gary Wilson, suffered burns to 80 percent of their bodies. A hospital nursing supervisor said late Thursday night that both are in critical condition.
Helicopters landed at a nearby field where an old slag plant once stood, police said. From there, Stiver and Wilson were evacuated.
Police from surrounding communities blocked traffic on Lowellville Road, where the plant is located, a mile on both sides of the plant.
Only police, firefighters and the engineers who designed the cylinder were allowed into the site for most of the day.
About 4:30 p.m., authorities reopened the road to traffic but would not allow anyone to enter the plant.
Throughout the evening authorities worked to relieve pressure in the cylinder by releasing the natural gas that is used to heat the waste in preparation for treatment.
Officials would not talk publicly about the cause of the explosion.