OSHA levies $14k fine on GP for fatal fire

CORRIGAN, TX (KTRE) - An OSHA report cites two violations and reports a $14,000 fine against Georgia-Pacific in connection to the fire which claimed two lives in Corrigan in April.

The fire occurred the night of April 26, when it broke out in the bag house, a grain silo-type structure on the plant.

Two men, Charles Kovar and Kenneth Morris, died from injuries sustained in the fire, weeks after the accident. Another man, Jimmy Williams, is still hospitalized.

The OSHA report cites two violations with a gravity score of 10 out of 10 for both and a violation type of "serious."

The first citation five issues:

* Dust collector bags impeded the venting area of the dust collector deflagration vents.

* No protection for employees from the fireball path.

* Dust collector vented and the deflagration traveled upstream to the sander.

* Main blower was not in operation.

* No choke between the sander dust collector and silo leading to the briquetter.

The second citation states employees were exposed to a struck-by hazard during the collapse of ventilation ductwork.

GP spokesman Eric Abercrombie said the company reached a settlement this week with OSHA by agreeing to pay the fine and signing a non-admission clause.

"We're committed to workplace safety," Abercrombie said. "And this incident was a tragic reminder we must place an emphasis on safety and our thoughts and prayers are with the families."

The Kovar and Morris families have each hired an attorney for civil action.

"This fire never should have happened and could have been reasonably prevented," said Anthony Buzbee, the Kovar family attorney. "We intend to aggressively pursue this effort to seek redress for the horrific loss of a very good man."

The Kovar family is suing GP and other third-parties who the petition states is responsible for the faulty equipment which did not aid and detect the fire before it got out of hand.

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