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UPDATE: OSHA Cites Airgas in Explosion that Injured Workers

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UPDATE 8/13/13 @ 11:20 p.m.
PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An OSHA investigation into an explosion that burned two workers at Airgas, a manufacturing facility near Poca, resulted in six violations, including four that are considered serious.

The explosion happened this past May, and the workers were taken to the hospital for burn-related injuries. Dozens of containers of acetylene gas blew up during the incident.

OSHA is proposing $19,000 in penalties for the violations, which resulted from two official citations.

Airgas has officially contested the citations.



UPDATE 5/15/13 @ 2:25 p.m.
PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A part of a company rocked by a series of explosions in Putnam County reopened on Wednesday.

Dozens of containers of Acetylene gas blew up Monday afternoon at Airgas near Poca. Two employees were taken to the hospital with burns.

The employees are still recovering, but expected to be okay.

OSHA is investigating to try and figure out what happened.

Company officials say the facility is once again distributing propane, but the acetylene unit is still shut down.



UPDATE 5/14/13 @ 9:35 a.m.
PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Airgas in Putnam County will not open Tuesday after an explosion at the facility left two people hurt.

The explosion was reported just after 3 p.m. Monday at Airgas along Route 62 in Black Betsy, W.Va. That's between Poca and Bancroft.

Doug Sherman, Vice President of Communications, tells WSAZ.com there is still some clean up that needs to take place at the facility before it can reopen. The facility will be back in operation on Wednesday, according to Sherman.

During the explosion, two employees suffered first and second degree burns, but their injuries do not appear life threatening. Sherman says the company is not releasing the employees' names and he did not have an update on their condition Tuesday morning.

Firefighters say more than 50 tanks of Acetylene that were held in a bunker in the plant exploded. The explosions then caused a fire inside the building. Acetylene is used in the welding process.

The explosion happened in a concrete bunker.

Sherman tells WSAZ.com the cylinders holding the Acetylene were damaged, along with two windows inside the plant. The cylinders that were damaged will be sent off for testing, according to Sherman.

11 people work at the Airgas facility in Black Betsy.

OSHA is investigating the incident to determine what caused it. Prentice Cline, area director, tells WSAZ.com OSHA will conduct a comprehensive inspection of the facility. A team is at the plant Tuesday continuing its investigation.

Cline says typically these types of investigations take more than a couple of days to complete.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/13/13 @ 10 p.m.
PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- More than 50 barrels exploded during an incident in Putnam County that injured two employees at a shipping company.

The explosion was reported just after 3 p.m. Monday at Airgas along Route 62 in Black Betsy, W.Va. That's between Poca and Bancroft.

Emergency crews at the scene tell WSAZ.com the two men were taken to Cabell-Huntington Hospital with first and second-degree burns, but the injuries do not appear life threatening.

Firefighters tell WSAZ.com more than 50 tanks of Acetylene that were held in a bunker in the plant exploded. The explosions then caused a fire inside the building.

Acetylene is used in the welding process.

The two workers hurt were working near the tanks when the explosion happened, according to firefighters.

Emergency crews say one employee was burned on his face. The other man suffered burns to his arms.

When crews arrived on the scene, flames were coming from the supply company. It took crews about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire.

“It was my day off,” Josh Oldaker said. “We were taking a nap, then it felt like somebody drove their car through my house."

Oldaker lives on Black Betsy Bottom Road a couple hundred feet from Airgas.

"We went outside, and there was a big mushroom cloud, flames going about a hundred feet in the air," Oldaker said.

Oldaker says after seeing multiple other explosions and fearing there could be dangerous chemicals leaked, he packed up his family and pets into their van and left the area. He says several of his neighbors also left.

Wanda Johnson lives nearby on Edgewater Drive.

"I heard this big loud explosion, and I hit the floor,” Johnson said. “It felt like the house was going to fall apart."

A business next door to Airgas, Modular Building Consultants, was evacuated as a precaution.

Route 62 is closed in Black Betsy. Drivers are asked to avoid the area.

Neighbors in the area tell WSAZ.com they heard a series of explosions before they saw the flames.

According to the company's website, Airgas is the United States' largest supplier of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related equipment, safety supplies and MRO products and services to industrial and commercial markets.

Several agencies from Putnam and Kanawha County responded to the scene.

Crews left the scene shortly before 10 p.m. Monday. They stayed to make sure the last several barrels of acetelyne burned themselves out.

OSHA has taken over the investigation. The State Fire Marshal's Office was also at the scene. OSHA officials were not commenting about the incident Monday night.

It was unclear if workers will return to the plant on Tuesday.

Airgas issued a written news statement Monday night with information similar to what was reported earlier Monday. Company officials say an investigation into the cause continues.

Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/13/13 @ 4:15 p.m.
PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two employees at Airgas in Putnam County have been burned during an explosion Monday afternoon.

Emergency crew at the scene tell WSAZ.com the two men were taken to Cabell-Huntington Hospital with first and second-degree burns, but the injuries do not appear life threatening.

The explosion was reported just after 3 p.m. Monday at Airgas along Route 62 in Black Betsy, W.Va. That's between Poca and Bancroft.

During the incident, six Acetylene tanks exploded, according to emergency responders. The explosions then caused a fire inside the building.

The tanks that exploded were used in the welding process.

Emergency crews say during the explosion one employee was burned on his face. The other man suffered burns to his arms.

When crews arrived on the scene, flames were coming from the supply company. It took crews about 30 minutes to extinguish the fire.

A business next door to Airgas, Modular Building Components, was evacuated as a precaution.

Route 62 is closed in Black Betsy. Drivers are asked to avoid the area.

According to the company's website, Airgas is the United States' largest supplier of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related equipment, safety supplies and MRO products and services to industrial and commercial markets.

Several agencies from Putnam and Kanawha County responded to the scene.

WSAZ.com has a call into Airgas' Corporate Office for comment. Our call was not returned at the time of this publication.

We have crews at the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



UPDATE 5/13/13 @ 3:50 p.m.
PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Two people have been hurt after an explosion at a supply company in Putnam County.

The explosion was reported just after 3 p.m. Monday at Airgas along Route 62 in Black Betsy, W.Va.. That's between Poca and Bancroft.

After the explosion, flames were visible in the area.

Emergency crews at the scene say two people were hurt during the incident and were taken by ambulance to the hospital.

The Putnam County Sheriff tells WSAZ.com the two people hurt suffered burns to their bodies, but the extent of their injuries are unknown.

A business next door to Airgas, Modular Building Components, was evacuated as a precaution.

Route 62 is closed in Black Betsy. Drivers are asked to avoid the area.

According to the company's website, Airgas is the United States' largest supplier of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related equipment, safety supplies and MRO products and services to industrial and commercial markets.

We have crews at the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.



PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Putnam County 911 Dispatchers tell WSAZ.com an explosion has been reported at Airgas in Putnam County.

The incident was reported just after 3 p.m. in Black Betsy. That's between Poca and Bancroft.

Dispatchers say several crews are responding to the scene.

A Poca Fire Board Member tells WSAZ.com several people have been hurt and HealthNet is headed to the scene.

A business next door to Airgas, Modular Building Components, has been evacuated as a precaution.

Route 62 is closed in Black Betsy. Drivers are asked to avoid the area.

According to the company's website, Airgas is the United States' largest supplier of industrial, medical, and specialty gases and related equipment, safety supplies and MRO products and services to industrial and commercial markets.

We have a crew headed to the scene. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the latest information.


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