Explosions, fire reported at W.Va. gas plant

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Associated Press

Posted on May 13, 2013 at 5:05 PM

Updated Monday, May 13 at 8:01 PM

POCA, W.Va. (AP) — An emergency official says two workers are being treated for minor injuries after explosions and a fire at an industrial site in West Virginia.

Jason Owens of Putnam County's emergency management center says fire crews were dispatched at about 3:20 p.m. Monday to Airgas in Poca, outside of Charleston. The company distributes specialty gases.

He described the injuries as minor and said the two have been taken to a hospital for treatment. A hospital official did not know their conditions.

Officials with Airgas could not immediately be reached. The company calls itself the largest supplier of industrial, medical and specialty gases in the U.S.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

Crews responded to explosions and a fire at a gas distributor in West Virginia Monday and an emergency official said there are reports of some injuries, though the number and severity were unclear.

Nitro firefighter Jeff Dorsey said crews were dispatched to Airgas in Poca, just outside Charleston. The company distributes 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 he had no other details.

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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