A survivor of the explosion at a chocolate factory in West Reading, Pennsylvania, might have died had she not fallen into a vat of the liquid candy.
Flames engulfed Patricia Borges’ arm when the floor collapsed and she fell into the basement of the R.M. Palmer Co. factory during an explosion on March 24 that killed seven of her coworkers, the Associated Press (AP) reported Friday.
However, the fall landed her in a vat of chocolate which extinguished the flames on her arm. Unfortunately, the fall also broke her collarbone and both heels.
Video footage shows the woman recovering in the hospital. She said employees could smell gas and asked if they were going to evacuate the building. However, a person in charge said they would need to ask a supervisor if they would be evacuated. That was the moment the explosion erupted:
For nine hours, 50-year-old Borges screamed for help and waited to be rescued.
“When I began to burn, I thought it was the end for me,” she recalled.
Ten people were also injured in the blast that federal, state, and local officials are now investigating. Although authorities have not yet determined what caused the incident, leaders with the federal transportation safety agency deemed it a natural gas explosion.
Video footage recorded near the factory shows traffic moving normally until flames and debris shoot into the sky:
The explosion happened just before 5:00 p.m., and Borges was thrown on the ground.
Amid the chaos, she began to run, but the floor fell through and she tumbled into a tank of chocolate located in the basement where the liquid extinguished the flames on her arm. Water from the firefighter’s hoses eventually began filling the tank, and Borges was forced to climb out when the liquid reached her neck.
She waited for a long time and called out for someone to help her. When it appeared all was lost, a light shone near her and she cried out again. Thanks to the efforts of search-and-rescue dogs, crews found her.
An aerial photo shows the explosion’s aftermath as emergency crews assessed the damage:
Now Borges must undergo surgery on both feet. As of Saturday afternoon, a GoFundMe page created to help her rehabilitation has raised $8,757 of its $100,000 goal.
“As you can imagine, we are overwhelmingly thankful that she was able to survive this terrible event. Unfortunately, Patricia has a long journey ahead,” the page reads.
It will reportedly take time for authorities to determine what caused the explosion, per ABC 6:
“I wish I could give you a better answer, but due to the process that this takes it’s going to take some time, and to sit here and be able to give you a time frame would be unfair to everyone,” West Reading Police Sgt. Chad Marks explained.