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UPDATE | Name released of person killed in chemical plant explosion

Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 12:22 PM EST
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UPDATE 12/9/20 @ 4:19 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) released a statement on John Gillenwater, the man who was killed at the Optima Chemical facility explosion last night in Belle.

“Gayle and I send our thoughts and prayers to John Gillenwater’s family, friends, and loved ones, especially his wife Tina and their children. It is heartbreaking to lose a fellow West Virginian, especially so close to the holidays. This is tragic loss for the community and all of West Virginia. Gayle and I, like all West Virginians, will keep John’s loved ones in our prayers and will continue to pray for the speedy recovery of the three others injured in last night’s explosion.”

Kanawha County Emergency Management Director, CW Sigman, tells WSAZ.com chlorine and methanol were involved in the explosion.

UPDATE 12/9/20 @ 3:00 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The name of the person who was killed in an explosion at Optima Chemicals Company in Belle, West Virginia Tuesday evening has been released.

According to a spokesperson from the family, John Gillenwater was killed.

His family has issued a statement:

“The family is devastated over the loss of their husband, father and friend John Gillenwater. John was beloved by many in his community and his church. Tina and her children are surrounded by family and friends in this great time of need. What happened was a tragedy. John was the sole bread winner for his family, and many are asking how they can help. First, the family covets your prayers. John Gillenwater was a true man of faith and the family believes in the power of prayer. Second, a benefit account for the family has been established with City National Bank. We encourage those who would like to show support for Tina and the family during this time to donate by contacting any local branch referencing the benefit account for John Gillenwater.”

The Chemours representative says the incident did not originate in the Chemours plant located on the site and that all Chemours employees were safe and accounted for Tuesday evening.

Kanawha County Emergency Management Director, CW Sigman, tells WSAZ.com chlorine and methanol were involved in the explosion.

Following the explosion, three people were transported to the hospital and a fourth person took himself to seek treatment.

For our previous coverage click here.

ORIGINAL STORY 12/9/20 @ 12:22 p.m.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - At least one person has died following an explosion at Optima Chemicals Company in Belle, West Virginia Tuesday evening, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper confirms.

Optima Chemicals Company is a tenant on the Chemours site in Belle, according to a Chemours representative.

The explosion at the plant along W. Dupont Avenue was reported at about 10: 30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Chemours representative says the incident did not originate in the Chemours plant located on the site and that all Chemours employees were safe and accounted for Tuesday evening.

Kanawha County Emergency Management Director, CW Sigman, tells WSAZ.com chlorine and methanol were involved in the explosion.

Following the explosion, three people were transported to the hospital and a fourth person took himself to seek treatment.

For our previous coverage click here.

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