The U.S. Chemical Safety Board announced Wednesday that it will investigate a fire at a Houston area chemical plant as the facility’s operator identified the worker killed in the blaze.
James Earl Mangum was killed in the Tuesday fire at a KMCO chemical plant in Crosby, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston, a company spokesman said. The two other workers who were injured during the blaze remain in critical condition. Their identities were not released.
An autopsy found that Mangum’s accidental death was caused by “sharp force injuries” that cut a major artery and vein in his right arm, a spokesman for Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said.
“The entire KMCO team continues to mourn the loss of our friend and colleague, James Earl Mangum, or ‘Bubba’ as he was fondly known at the plant,” John Foley said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family as well as his two coworkers who remain in intensive care at area hospitals.”
The company said it is not releasing any other information on the status of the two injured men out of respect for their families and their privacy.
The fire was extinguished at 4:20 p.m. Tuesday and emergency teams continued to apply water and foam on the hot surfaces to prevent reignition.
The Chemical Safety Board, an independent federal agency that investigates industrial chemical incidents, said it will join other agencies probing the cause of the deadly fire.
All operations at the KMCO plant are suspended indefinitely and the site is under control of Texas fire officials, according to the company.
Fire investigators haven’t yet been able to enter the plant because of ongoing clean up and emergency operations, said Rachel Moreno of the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office.
County officials said Wednesday that ongoing air monitoring shows no health risks to the area around the plant.
Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo was at the site along with the Fire Marshal’s office, Harris County Pollution Control, Harris County Public Health and other government agencies. In a release, Hidalgo stated any detectable odor in the Crosby area may be attributed to the highly odoriferous compounds but there is not a health threat.