Suit claims Junk Yard caused the explosion and fire by failing to remove or drain a gas-tank and failing to take necessary safety precautions
NAPOLEON, OHIO – A lawsuit was filed Tuesday in the Henry County Court of Common Pleas after 41-year-old Jeffery Keehn was killed in a deadly fire and explosion at Hogrefe Auto Parts, LLC in Napoleon, Ohio on November 9, 2017.
Jeffery Keehn was using a torch to cut parts off a pickup truck for Hogrefe Auto Parts when gasoline vapors ignited, erupting into a blazing fire and an explosion that shook nearby businesses. Still underneath the vehicle, Jeffery was engulfed in thick black smoke and intense flames as the large fire quickly spread to three vehicles and other equipment on the property. The direct cause of this catastrophic and deadly fire was the failure of Hogrefe Auto Parts to take appropriate fire safety precautions, such as removing the fuel tank or draining it of gasoline prior to part removal using a torch, according to the lawsuit. OSHA investigated and fined Hogrefe Auto Parts $75,016.00 for violations related to the fatal explosion. The junk yard is contesting those violations, which include failures to protect from fire hazards.
“This was a completely preventable tragedy,” says Attorney Katie Harris, one of the lawyers for Mr. Keehn’s Estate. “Hogrefe Auto Parts and the people who run it should never have put someone in the position of using a torch in circumstances where it could ignite gasoline and explode like this. Instead of taking simple safety precautions, they let Jeffery Keehn use a torch on the underside of a truck that still had gasoline in it without warning him. Because of that he suffered enormously and died a terrifying death that was 100% avoidable.”
The lawsuit seeks compensatory and punitive damages against Hogrefe Auto Parts, its owner Gary Hogrefe and its manager Donald Reynolds and claims that the following factors contributed to Jeffrey Keehn’s death:
- Failure to maintain the premises in reasonably safe condition;
- Failure to take precautions to prevent explosions and fires that could cause injury and death;
- Failure to warn Mr. Keehn of hidden dangers such as those posed by fuel in the fuel tank;
- Failure to properly train employees or agents;
- Failure to remove the gas tank or drain it of fuel; and
- Failure to ensure that gasoline and compressed gases were handled safely.
For a complete explanation of what happened on the date of the fire, read the official, file-stamped lawsuit against Hogrefe Auto Parts, LLC, Gary Hogrefe, and Donald Reynolds.
We are hopeful that this lawsuit will lead other companies in the area to examine their safety procedures and make the changes that are necessary to prevent further needless loss of life.
The mission of Charles E. Boyk Law Offices, LLC is to help those injured by the negligence of others, while at the same time focusing on educating the community in order to prevent similar situations. Headquartered in Toledo, Ohio, Charles E. Boyk Law Offices has six locations to serve those in need of legal representation and we offer complimentary case evaluations to anyone living in or near northwest Ohio.