6 men still hospitalized after Formosa Plastics fire; 1 critical, unstable

May 3, 2013 at 12:03 a.m.
Updated May 4, 2013 at 12:04 a.m.

Two men are still in the burn unit at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center in Houston after a fire at Formosa Plastics sent 14 men to area hospitals Thursday.

Jose Campos, 33, of Port Lavaca, has burns on his arms, hands, back, legs and face, said his sister, Norma Pulido, of Port Lavaca.

"He was trying to climb down from the scaffolding. He was on fire and trying to climb down as fast as he could, and he jumped from the second floor. And then he started running, and then he didn't remember anything else. I guess he blacked out," Pulido said about Campos, who was taken by helicopter from Formosa after the fire began about 1:30 p.m.

Campos is married with four children, ages 7 months to 8 years old, Pulido said.

His injuries mean he could be at Hermann-Memorial for several weeks.

Pulido said Campos was a foreman working for Palacios Marine & Industrial, a contractor for Formosa Plastics.

Steven Vasquez was also flown Thursday to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center. He was in critical and unstable condition in the intensive care unit, said a hospital spokeswoman.

Vasquez, who works for Palacios Marine & Industrial, was on scaffolding at the time of the fire, said Valerie Aguayo, office manager for the contracting company in Point Comfort.

Five men were transported to Citizens Medical Center after the fire with serious injuries.

Chris Doehrman was airlifted from Citizens to Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio for burns, said a hospital spokeswoman.

Doehrman does not work for Palacios Marine & Industrial, Aguayo said.

He was in stable condition in the intensive care unit Friday night, said a Brooke Army Medical Center spokesman.

Raul Salazar, Jacob Garcia and Marquito Cavallero, who all work for the contractor, were each moved from the intensive care unit at Citizens Medical Center into private rooms, said a hospital spokesman. They were all in stable condition Friday night.

Corky Vickery was treated and released from Citizens on Thursday. He does not work for Palacios Marine & Industrial.

Seven men were treated and released from Memorial Medical Center in Port Lavaca on Thursday. Bill Harvey, Formosa communications manager, said Thursday night that 16 men were injured, but that number changed Friday to 14 men injured. Harvey said one worker was counted twice and the other was thought to have been transported but was not.

The fire was confined to the polyethylene No. 1 production unit, Harvey said.

Harvey would not say how many people worked in that unit but said the unit is not currently operating.

"When you have an incident of any sort like that, we have to be really careful to make sure it hasn't affected anything else, any of the areas close to it. We are very methodically going through and making sure everything is intact," Harvey said.

Harvey does not know how long the unit will be out of commission but said the other employees of that unit are still employed and no one has been furloughed.

Harvey would not release information about the injured.

The rest of the plant is operating as normal, he said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Harvey also would not say how much polyethylene, one of the most common plastics, is produced in the unit.

Pulido said Campos' children do not understand why their dad is gone, and she hopes he recovers quickly.

"He is just a family guy. He is just there for his kids and ... he will try to do anything he can for the life of his family," Pulido said.

Other families would not comment because Formosa officials instructed them not to talk about the incident, they said.

Correction 05/08/2013: Bill Harvey, Formosa Plastics communications manager, said the company did not instruct employees or their families to not talk to the media about the flash fire Thursday.


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