Worker killed in Ayer explosion was man in his 50s, DA says

One worker was killed and another injured Friday in an explosion and four-alarm fire at a furnace manufacturer in Ayer, according to a fire official.

The victim, who was not identified, “ended up succumbing to his injuries,” at Nashoba Valley Medical Center Ayer, Fire Captain Jeremy Januskiewicz said late Friday night. The man was in his 50s, the Middlesex district attorney’s office said in a statement Saturday.

The second worker was taken to a hospital after the explosion at AVS Inc. That worker was expected to survive.

A firefighter from Devens and another from Littleton also suffered injuries while assisting the Ayer Fire Department in battling the blaze, according to Jennifer Mieth, a spokeswoman for the state Fire Marshal’s office.


Those injuries were minor, the DA’s office said.

Ayer firefighters responded to a report of an explosion at AVS, short for Advanced Vacuum Systems, at 5:24 p.m. Friday. The fire tore through the roof of the building at 60 Fitchburg Road.

“When the explosion occurred, it blew — whatever was on fire — it blew it up to the corners of the building, so we had fires around the roof line,” Ayer Fire Chief Robert J. Pedrazzi told reporters at the scene.

Investigators from the state Fire Marshal’s office also responded to the fire scene. A preliminary investigation indicates the explosion was caused by a failure of a pressure valve, the office said in a statement.

Officials at AVS could not be reached for comment Friday night.

The cause of the explosion and fire remains under investigation by state and local authorities.

The federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration is conducting a separate investigation. The agency is charged with investigating workplace fatalities and injuries.

The fire, which quickly grew to four alarms drew assistance from 10 fire crews from across the Nashoba Valley and northern Worcester County.


Jacob Carozza can be reached at