Explosion at Airgas facility in West Virginia injures two

13 May 2013 23:28  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--An explosion involving canisters of acetylene that resulted in a subsequent fire at an Airgas facility in West Virginia on Monday afternoon burned two employees.

The explosion at the Airgas Mid America plant in the community of Black Betsy was reported at about 15:30 West Virginia time (19:30 GMT), officials said. Authorities are not sure what caused the explosion as of late Monday, and the fire had been contained.

“They had an explosion and fire. The fire is contained; however it is still burning because they don’t want to let the product vent into the atmosphere,” said Jason Owens, deputy director of public safety for Putnam County.

There have been no reports of further injuries or death but apparently the two workers, who have yet to be identified, were working in the vicinity where approximately 100 canisters of acetylene were stored. Acetylene is a colourless gas commonly used for welding and torch cutting of metal.

One suffered burns to his face while the other was burned on his arms. The injuries were described as first- and second-degree burns, which are typically not life-threatening.

Airgas is the largest US supplier of industrial, medical and specialty gases. This facility is a distributor centre, which handled gases that included nitrogen and oxygen but authorities said those products were not involved.

Authorities said they believe there is no further threat to public safety, although transportation officials have temporarily closed the adjacent highway.

At this time, company officials are not commenting on the incident.


By: Mark Milam



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