After Texas Plant Explodes, Search Resumes for Missing Worker - NBC Southern California
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After Texas Plant Explodes, Search Resumes for Missing Worker

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Search for Answers and Man's Body Continues in Cresson

    Investigators continue to look into the cause of an explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Cresson. One man is still missing and feared dead. (Published Friday, March 16, 2018)

    Human remains have been found in the wreckage of a North Texas chemical plant nearly a week after a worker went missing following an explosion and fire.

    In a statement, Hood County Fire Marshal Ray Wilson says the remains were found about 3 p.m. Wednesday at the Tri-Chem Industries plant near Cresson, about 25 miles southwest of Fort Worth. The remains were sent to the Tarrant County Medical Examiner's Office in Fort Worth for positive identification.

    The missing worker has been identified as 27-year-old Dylan Mitchell. He is presumed dead. Two other workers were injured in the March 15 explosion.

    The search for Mitchell had been slowed by the presence of hazardous materials released and spread by the explosion and fire.

    The fire at a Texas chemical plant following an explosion last week had been allowed to burn itself out before authorities search for Mitchell.

    Dylan Mitchell, 27, is missing after an explosion and fire at a chemical plant in Cresson, Texas, March 15, 2018.
    Photo credit: Mitchell Family

    Mitchell is believed to have been at work inside the Tri-Chem Industries Plant in Cresson when something exploded, sparking a fire that consumed the building Thursday.

    Cresson Mayor and Assistant Fire Chief Bob Cornett said Sunday that conditions at the 15,000-square-foot (1,400-square-meter) Tri-Chem Industries plant are "just too hot" and "just too dangerous." He says rains Saturday night aggravated chemicals and acids at the site about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Fort Worth.

    Cornett says the plant is being guarded to ensure no one enters. He says state and federal environmental and workplace officials are standing by to assist local authorities.

    Mitchell's brother, Austin Mitchell, spoke with NBC 5 Thursday afternoon and said his family is fearing the worst since his brother hasn't been seen since the blast was reported.

    "It sucks. I feel hollow," Austin Mitchell said. "It's been this long, he's probably dead."

    The search was halted for part of the day while the collapsed part of the building was evaluated. Sometime before 2 p.m., crews began using heavy machinery to lift parts of the collapsed structure so that the search for Mitchell could continue.

    Officials at the scene said some parts of the building are still smoldering and that the search could take some time.

    "What's in there is still dangerous right now, there are a lot of fires still burning in there; relatively small fires," said Ron Becker, Chief of the Cresson Fire Department. "We know, based on some witness accounts, where we think the individual was last seen and it's a portion of the building that has collapsed."

    The Environmental Protection Agency and a specialized hazmat team are on site assisting in the investigation. 


    Two other people working at the facility were injured in the fire, including one person who was critically burned on his trunk and hands and flown about 50 miles to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

    A second injured person, whose injuries were not as serious, was taken to Lake Granbury Medical Center.

    NBC 5 has learned about 12 people work at the Cresson facility, which opened about a year ago. There were no other injuries reported and it's not immediately clear how many people were working at the facility Thursday.

    On Friday, a list provided to state regulators shows the mixing facility routinely worked with a number of different chemicals, including acids, many of them flammable and others that are toxic.

    Air quality around the area has been monitored and officials do not believe there is any threat to the public.

    The investigation into the fire, meanwhile, is ongoing. Though most believe the cause of the fire was accidental, arson investigators from Tarrant County are also looking into what caused the fire.

    NBC 5's Kevin Cokely and Tim Ciesco contributed to this report.