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Explosion at R.M. Palmer Co. in Reading, PA Kills 7, Injures 10, Destroys Buildings

April 3, 2023 | 4 min read

West Reading, PA – Seven Workers Fatally Injured in Explosion at R.M. Palmer Co Plant on 2nd Avenue

West Reading, PA (March 27, 2023) – A major explosion was reported at an historic chocolate factory in West Reading that claimed the lives of seven workers on Friday evening, March 24. The explosion occurred just before 5:00 p.m. EST. Immediately after the explosion, police and firefighters in the area rushed to the scene to assist.

In addition to those who lost their lives, several others were injured in the explosion. One injured worker was transported to Penn State Health St. Joseph Medical Center, while another victim was transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital. Ten others were transported to Reading Hospital.

Two workers were pronounced deceased at the scene immediately after the incident. A total of seven workers were reported missing. After an extensive search, authorities located one of the victims who was reported missing. The victim was also pronounced deceased as a result of their injuries. Continued searches were performed, which did result in all the remaining missing workers being found.

On Sunday, March 26, the West Reading Borough Chief of Police confirmed that a total of seven workers died in the explosion. Two of the victims were identified as a 49-year-old female from Ephrata and a 60-year-old man from Reading.

The R.M. Palmer Company, where the explosion occurred, has been producing handcrafted, seasonal chocolate products, particularly their crisp chocolate Easter bunnies, for more than 70 years at their factory located in West Reading. West Reading is a tight-knit borough with just over 4,500 residents.

The explosion caused significant damage to multiple structures in the area and completely destroyed one of the two Palmer buildings. The incident also prompted several homes and businesses in the vicinity to be evacuated.

Authorities believe that a gas leak was the cause of the explosion. According to an incident report made to the National Response Center, an above-ground gas service line owned by UGI Utilities was involved. Investigations are still taking place to find out exactly what happened.

We hope the workers who were injured as a result of this explosion are able to recover quickly. We offer our warmest condolences to the families of the seven people who lost their lives as a result of this incident.

Fatal Explosion Incidents

In the year 2020 alone, more than 980 gas explosions were reported in the United States. These incidents often lead to tragedy, leaving hundreds of people injured and taking the lives of countless individuals.

There are several factors that continue to contribute to the high rate of explosions that occur in the United States. Some of the most common causes of these incidents include:

  • Gas appliances leaking
  • Gas lines that are improperly installed
  • Leaking gas tanks or hoses
  • Placing gas tanks too close to flammable materials
  • Failure of old or aging pipes or gas lines
  • Lines that rupture due to digging

Dealing with the sudden and unexpected loss of a loved one due to a gas explosion can be extremely challenging. Many families struggle to move forward after something so tragic.

If you are enduring the loss of a loved one, it is important to know that you do not have to go through the grieving process alone. Our national wrongful death lawyers can help guide you through the legal process and help to ensure you are able to get justice for your loved one.

After a fatal explosion, surviving family members as well as affected businesses have the right to take legal action in order to secure the financial compensation that they need and are entitled to during this very difficult time. Although there is nothing that can be done to bring back those who have lost their lives as a result of these tragic incidents, our ultimate goal is to provide those impacted with a sense of closure and the financial resources that they need to move forward.

Since 1977, our national explosion incident lawyers at Burg Simpson have fought hard to protect families and businesses who have been negatively impacted by fatal explosions across the country. The lawyers at Burg Simpson possess experience in successfully investigating and litigating fire and explosion cases all over the country, including states such as Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York. They routinely combine their exhaustive knowledge of federal, state, and local regulations with an extensive network of engineers, fire scientists, and utility-industry experts. This approach has enabled Burg Simpson to take on some of the largest corporate entities in the world and hold them to account for their roles in bringing about preventable injuries, death, and property damage.

Our compassionate legal team works hard every day to make sure bereaved families and those who suffered any type of loss have the money they need to cover funeral expenses, medical expenses, lost earnings, and various other expenses they may face. We also work to help businesses that get impacted by explosions mitigate the damage caused by such a destructive event.

If you or a loved one has been killed, injured, or impacted, or your property has been damaged in this explosion, contact Burg Simpson today to protect your rights, and for a FREE and confidential case evaluation (888) 895-2080 or Click HERE to contact us online. Our lawyers at Burg Simpson are committed to providing the legal support and guidance that you need during this very difficult time.