CORRIGAN, TX (KTRE) - Three of seven Georgia-Pacific employees who were injured Saturday evening when a fire broke out at the plywood mill in Corrigan have been treated and released from a Lufkin hospital, according to Georgia-Pacific spokesman, Eric Abercrombie.
Four others were airlifted to Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston where three are listed in critical condition and one in fair condition according to a hospital spokesperson.
Georgia-Pacific has opted not to release the names of those injured to protect their privacy.
Abercrombie said around 6:30 PM Saturday night there was an incident at the Corrigan plywood facility in the bag house. He describes the bag house as a grain silo type structure that is 25 feet high and 12 foot in diameter. The bag house collects dust from sanding plywood.
Abercrombie said anytime you work with wood and wood fiber it can get hot and a fire can happen. He goes on to say that Georgia-Pacific is fully equipped to deal with those types of situations and at this time the cause of the incident Saturday is unknown.
According to Abercrombie, a fire happened in the bag house and the pressure built up inside. The explosion doors, which are designed to open and vent out pressure did what they were designed to do in such an incident.
"It was contained to the bag house and a bag house is where we collect dust from the sanding of our plywood," said Abercrombie. "It's part of the process. It's also an environmental control to help reduce the emissions of particles into the atmosphere."
He says there were employees in the vicinity when the doors opened to release the pressure and flames came out through those doors.
Abercrombie says Georgia-Pacific has provided accommodations for the families of those employees injured so they could be with them during this time. He says their thoughts and prayers are with those families.
GP has shut down operations at the Corrigan mill. Abercrombie says is unclear when the facility will re-open. Representatives from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are on-site conducting an investigation.
"We're down operationally currently until we can determine it's safe to continue to operate but in terms of the structural integrity of the building, the structure itself. It's fine," said Abercrombie.
"We take safety really seriously here," said Abercrombie. "We have a great safety record here at this facility. It's an industry leader, one of the best in our divisions. This is an unusual occurrence for us. It's concerning and we're beginning to do the investigation to ensure not only this facility but other facilities across our division system-wide are aware of the situation and will address any kind of corrections we need to do."