Explosions, fire reported at W.Va. gas plant

May 13, 2013

POCA, W.Va. (AP) — Emergency officials said Monday that crews were responding to reports of explosions and a fire at an industrial site in Putnam County.

Nitro firefighter Jeff Dorsey said crews were dispatched to Airgas, a distributor of specialty gases used for industrial and other purposes.

Cecil Kimble, Putnam County’s emergency medical services director, told the Charleston Daily Mail some injuries were reported, but that it was unclear how many or their severity.

“We’re still not sure about injuries,” he said. “We know there’s a few but we don’t know exactly how many.”

A telephone call to the company resulted in a busy signal. A woman who answered the phone at the company’s regional headquarters said officials were in a meeting and could not immediately comment.

Doug Barker, chief financial officer at nearby Clark Truck Parts, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview that “we felt our building shake like it’s never come close to shaking before from a storm or anything. It was enough to make us run.”

Barker said he and the company’s chief executive officer bolted from their offices, and he ran to the road and saw dark smoke in the air to the east. Soon afterward they heard several smaller explosions and saw fire, he said. Barker also saw three or four ambulances speed by and heard a lot of sirens, he said.

Clark Truck Parts is about half a mile from Airgas, Barker said. He said there are some homes between the two industrial sites.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation said nearby Route 62 was closed.



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