1 dead, 1 injured after fire, explosion at Air Liquide cylinder plant

Spokesman says 20 employees were inside at time of explosion

LA PORTE, Texas -

Fire investigators are looking for the cause of an explosion and fire at the Air Liquide cylinder plant in La Porte that has left one person dead and another injured.

Around 8:00 am Saturday, emergency crews were called out to Fairmont Parkway near Bay Area Boulevard.

A spokesman for the company, which supplies and mixes nitrogen and carbon dioxide for oil and gas producers, said 20 employees were inside at the time. He said one person was unaccounted for and another person was airlifted to the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston with serious burn injuries and in serious condition.

"We've got a tremendous safety record and this is something we hate to see," said Mike Rosen with Air Liquide. "We train and we do what we can to take care of these things and we're working towards that."

One employee, identified as 30-year-old Javier Ortiz, is an Air Liquide technician. His wife, Julie Ortiz, said Javier went to work and never made it back home.

"I just want everyone to know he's a wonderful man, a wonderful father of three and he's loved very much," said Ortiz. "We're good people, he's a chemist and I'm a teacher at a high school."

Mario Ortiz, owner of Buritto Express, used his cell phone to record heavy black smoke and flames.

"We're so close to so many refineries, we just thought the worst," said Mario.

Investigators said the man who was unaccounted for was found dead in the debris about 12 hours later. The company has not yet confirmed whether or not it's Julie's husband.

In the meantime, Ortiz and her family are asking for prayers to get them through this difficult time.

"He's a wonderful father and husband and very active in our perish, and we just ask that you help us," said Ortiz.

The cause of the explosion is unknown at this time.

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