Mauricio Julian Cuellar Jr., Alice Echo-News Journal
A fire caused by a welder's flashback at the DCP Midstream gas plant near La Gloria sent three people to an Alice hospital about 11:30 a.m. Thursday with one being transported to a burns unit in San Antonio.
An emergency air medical helicopter from Victoria made a stop in Alice about 2:30 p.m. to transport a 52-year-old man to San Antonio.
"We treated three victims in Alice and this one is being taken to San Antonio to a burn unit," said spokeswoman Sherry Carr-Deer with CHRISTUS Spohn Health System. "They did say he had extensive injuries to his head, back and face."
She said the other two victims were in stable condition and were later released on Thursday. The three were from the Valley area, hospital officials said.
Media spokesperson for DCP Midstream's main office in Denver, Colo., Roz Elliot, said that five people were injured in the flashback fire at the gas plant. The individuals were all employed or contracted with Flint Energy Services as they were conducting a scheduled maintenance at the facility, Elliot said.
"Our first concern is around those people and their families," Elliot said.
She stressed that the La Gloria natural gas facility was safe and secure and that the fire was extinguished quickly.
Mark Bozich, a spokesperson for Flint Energy Services could not be reached for comment.
According to law enforcement officials, the fire was not a gas explosion, but involved a welding incident with one of the gas pipes at the plant.
While working on the pipe, the official said that some residual gas seeped from the pipe, causing a sudden burst of fire, also known as a flashback.
Officers were told that no explosion was involved.
School Prinicipal David Braswell with La Gloria Elementary School said he didn't hear an explosion from their school or notice any smoke in the air, which is about one and a half miles north of the plant. He also said that Brooks County officials told him that no explosion occurred and no evacuation was needed at the school. He said the sirens alerted him that something was happening near his school.
"The wind was coming from the north, and we're north of the plant, so we were concerned," Braswell said. "We didn't hear any explosions or anything. I immediately called the (Department of Public Safety) and Brooks County. They said everything was OK, but that they would call if the situation changed."
Braswell said he drove near the plant, and was told by officials that the incident was contained and posed no health risk to the area or the school.
Braswell said that classes continued on a normal schedule and school was let out at the usual time at 3:15 p.m.
Plant officials said that an investigative team was dispatched to the site on Thursday to further investigate.
Ofelia Garcia Hunter contributed to this report.