1 of 7 Georgia-Pacific employees injured in fire at plywood mill in Corrigan dies

Charles Kovar (Source: Kovar family)
Charles Kovar (Source: Kovar family)

CORRIGAN, TX (KTRE) - One of the seven Georgia-Pacific employees injured after a fire broke out at the company's plywood mill in Corrigan on April 26 has died.

Corrigan Police Chief Darrell Gibson confirmed that Charles Wayne Kovar, 56, of Moscow, had died. Charles Kovar was one of the three GP employees that had still been listed in critical condition.Taylor Kovar, Charles Kovar's son, said his father died at 12:43 p.m. Friday as a result of severe burns he sustained in the fire.

The Kovar family released a statement about Charles Kovar.

"We have sorrow, because today this world lost a great husband, father, friend, and neighbor," the statement said. "His life exemplified integrity, hard work, faithfulness, compassion, and true Christian love. We have eternal hope, because we know Dad is now and will forever be experiencing the joys of heaven with no more pain, injury, or infirmity. He is truly in a better place."

In the statement, the Kovar family thanked the Corrigan, Camden, Lufkin, and Georgia-Pacific communities for "their outpouring of love and concern."

"We would like to thank the thousands who prayed for our father over the past month," the statement said. "Your prayers have sustained us, and God has provided so many small miracles through your compassion. A special thank you is given to the staff of Memorial Hermann's John S. Dunn burn unit for their diligence and compassion while caring for our father and to Georgia-Pacific for providing room and board for the family near the hospital."

The family also thanked "Uncle Si" Robertson from the "Duck Dynasty" television show for taking the time to call them and to offer his prayers and condolences.

"Finally, thank you to all the countless friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, and friends we've never met," the statement said. "Your outpouring of love, prayers, and support have meant a great deal to our family."

In addition, the Kovar family asked for prayers for their mother, Phyllis Kovar, and the other victims of the fire.

Eric Abercrombie, a spokesman for Georgia-Pacific, said learning of Charles Kovar's death was sad news.

"The employees of the Corrigan plywood mill and everyone across our building products division are mourning the death of our fellow employee, Charles Kovar," Abercrombie said. "Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to his family and friends. We're also still praying for the two employees who are still in critical condition."

The other two Georgia-Pacific employees still being treated at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston area are Jimmy Williams and Kenneth Morris.

Ralph Figgs, who was also transported to Memorial Herman in the wake of the fire and explosion, has since been released from the hospital.

In a previous East Texas News story, Abercrombie, said the other three employees were taken to a Lufkin hospital, where they were treated and released.

Abercrombie said around 6:30 p.m. Saturday there was an incident at the Corrigan plywood facility in the bag house. He described 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.

Anytime you work with wood and wood fiber it can get hot and a fire can happen, Abercrombie said. He explained 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," Abercrombie said. "It's part of the process. It's also an environmental control to help reduce the emissions of particles into the atmosphere."

Abercrombie said there were employees in the vicinity when the doors opened to release the pressure and flames came out through those doors.

Georgia-Pacific has provided accommodations for the families of those employees injured so they could be with them during this time. Abercrombie said their thoughts and prayers are with those families.

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