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Search for man missing in plant fire suspended

18 March, 2018, 02:08 | Author: Janis Wilson
  • NBC    
     SMOULDERING Thick black smoke can be seen billowing from the plant in North Texas

After a fertilizer plant explosion in the city of West, Texas, killed 15 people in 2013, Greg Abbott, who was then attorney general and is now governor, ruled that state agencies could withhold information about hazardous chemicals because of "ongoing terroristic activity".

A third worker is missing and presumed dead after Thursday's explosion at Tri-Chem Industries in Cresson, located 50 miles (80 kilometers) southwest of Dallas.

He said the man was upright and speaking, though so badly burned that medics had to drill into his shoulder bone to deliver morphine to keep him from going into shock. He said investigators have not yet been able to interview the man in treatment at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. Catherine Bradley, a spokeswoman at Parkland, said Speegle was in serious condition Friday.

Wilson said a deputy fire marshal was hospitalized Thursday with breathing difficulties, but has been treated and released.

In a story March 15 about an explosion and fire at a North Texas chemical plant, The Associated Press reported erroneously that a missing worker is named Dillon Mitchell.

"We had multiple explosions in the building while the fire was taking place", said Hood County fire marshal Ray Wilson.

A medical helicopter landed Thursday at MotorSport Ranch, a private race track several miles from the plant, but the worker was too injured to fly, according to the ranch's director of safety and volunteer Cresson firefighter, David Piontkowski.

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Once the flames died down, crews entered to search for the missing worker but were unable to find him. He didn't know when they would resume the search.

Inside the plant water or solids are blended with highly concentrated chemicals.

Cornett says investigators believe the fire at Tri-Chem Industries was sparked when a worker dragged his foot along the floor of the plant while chemicals were being mixed.

Another worker was also injured and is being treated for non-life-threatening injuries at a hospital in Granbury, about 13 miles (21 kilometers) away. He is said to have caught fire from the waist up and has been airlifted to hospital with critical burns.

Officials now call the search a "recovery" effort, meaning if the missing worker is still in the Tri-Chem Industries wreckage, he's believed to likely be dead.

Gillum says experts determined there are no air quality issues but the site remains risky because of the hazardous industrial chemicals.

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