Texas

Man set on fire by ‘lit fuse’ just before fatal Cresson explosion, lawsuit says

One employee was missing and two other workers were injured in a chemical fire Thursday morning at a commercial building in Cresson, authorities said. Cresson is about 25 miles southwest of Fort Worth.
One employee was missing and two other workers were injured in a chemical fire Thursday morning at a commercial building in Cresson, authorities said. Cresson is about 25 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Courtesy of WFAA-TV

The family of a man who died in a massive explosion at a Cresson chemical plant in March has filed a lawsuit along with another man who was injured in the blast claiming that there were insufficient warnings and instructions on the chemical that ignited.

Authorities searched for days to find the remains of Dylan Wayne Mitchell, a 27-year-old worker at Tri-Chem Specialty Chemicals LLC, after a March 15 explosion leveled a portion of the Cresson plant.

Jason William Speegle, who was injured in the blast, is a plaintiff along with Mitchell’s family in the lawsuit, which names Tri-Chem, the Chinese chemical manufacturer Dongying Shengya Chemical Co. Ltd., TR International Trading Company and Access Chemicals and Services.

Hood County Fire Marshal Ray Wilson said his office has not yet determined what caused the explosion.

Mitchell and Speegle were mixing a batch of sodium chlorite and water for resale when some of the powdered chemical fell on the plant floor, the lawsuit states. Apparently, Mitchell’s foot touched the lid of the sodium chlorite container which was on the floor, moving it a short distance and causing sparks, the lawsuit says.

It had “the appearance of a lit fuse or sparkler along the path,” according to the lawsuit.

“Suddenly flames appeared around Mitchell’s legs which caught his clothes and hair afire,” the lawsuit states. “The flames made contact with additional sodium chlorite in a large open supersack nearby resulting in a massive explosion and fire.”

Mitchell’s burn injuries were fatal while Speegle suffered debilitating and permanent injuries, according to the lawsuit filed in Dallas last month.

Sodium chlorite is a white crystalline solid which is difficult to burn but accelerates the burning of organic substances, according to the U.S. government website PubChem. Sodium chlorite forms explosive mixtures with certain combustible materials and may explode under prolonged exposure to heat or fire, the website says.

The lawsuit alleges that the warnings and instructions accompanying the sodium chlorite in Cresson were inadequate and that label instructions failed to give proper notice of the dangers associated with the product.

Mitchell had a 6-year-old daughter at the time of his death, the lawsuit says.

Calls to Tri-Chem and Access were not immediately returned.

Fires and two explosions rocked a Houston-area chemical plant on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2017 in the wake of Harvey and its floods. When it comes to how dangerous the smoke from the plant is, local officials and FEMA have given statements that range f

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