2 Dead, 1 Injured in Explosion at Connecticut VA Hospital

A street view of the West Haven VA Medical Center in West Haven, Conn.
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Two people are dead and one person is injured in a steam pipe explosion at a Veterans Medical Center in Connecticut, officials said. The blast that happened at the West Haven VA Medical Center in West Haven  on Friday appears to have been caused by a steam pipe, according to Gov. Ned Lamont, The Hartford Courant reported.

“This is a heartbreaking tragedy, and I have instructed our state agencies to provide full resources as the response and investigation continues,” Lamont said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs confirmed that neither victim was a patient, as the blast happened in a non-patient facility on the hospital's campus, about 70 miles northeast of Manhattan, the New York Daily News reported

Vice President Charles Brough of Mulvaney Mechanical in Danbury said Friday that one of the company’s team members, whom he did not name, had died in the explosion. He added that the company was cooperating with the ongoing investigation, according to the Hartford Courant.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said during a news conference on Friday that he was calling for a “full, complete, aggressive” investigation into the cause of the explosion. He said the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, which has oversight of the Department of Veterans Affairs and of which he is a member, may also look into the matter.

“The explosion that caused their death was in a building apart from the hospital facility, so the hospital is continuing its operation. No patient is in danger and no other injuries are known at this point,” said Blumenthal, who told the newspaper he’d be taking a “personal interest in the investigation.”

In the meantime, a heavy police presence was visible at the West Haven VA Medical Center Friday morning, concentrated around a building on the western edge of the campus. The blast occurred in a maintenance area, according to the Associated Press.

FBI spokesman Charlie Grady said “there is no indication of anything nefarious at this point,” reported the Courant.

Grady said the FBI is helping the Connecticut State Police, the lead investigators.

Sen. Chris Murphy said he was “closely monitoring” the situation.

“My heart goes out to those affected and I stand ready to assist local and federal officials as we learn more,” he tweeted.

This is a developing story. 

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