Plant explosion victim dies

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MINDEN -- One of the victims in a recycling plant explosion a week ago has died.

According to the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Jaime Gonzales succumbed to his injuries Tuesday afternoon at 3:40 p.m.

"This is a sad thing. Our hearts go out to the affected families and we would urge everyone in the community to support these families through prayer and if possible financial assistance," said East Fork Fire District Capt. Terry Taylor.

Gonzales was one of five men severely burned Sept. 17 in a series of explosions that rocked Depressurized Technologies International Inc. at the Meridian Business Complex off Airport Road.

Gonzales, Susano Lopez, Raul Gonzales, Cellio San Juan and Elias San Juan were at work at 7:40 p.m. at the plant, where discarded aerosol cans are prepared for recycling, when an unknown source ignited the propane or butane fumes that fills the cans.

All five men are members of the same extended family.

Taylor said several possible sources of the ignition have been ruled out, to include cigarette smoking and a ventilation fan, but investigators say three possibilities remain -- a forklift, a compact disc player and static electricity.

He said Gonzales and Lopez were the closest to the explosion and suffered more severe burns. Both men were taken by CareFlight helicopter to UMC in Las Vegas. Lopez remains in criticial condition. The other three are being treated at UC Davis in Sacramento, where Taylor said they are responding to treatment. He said Raul Gonzales was not in the room at the time of the first explosion, but rushed in to help and himself became a victim. The men all suffered from second- and third-degree burns.

Taylor said the men all had protective equipment available to them including masks, but were apparantely not wearing them

"These guys were in an an atmosphere of these gasses. They were permeated with them, including their lungs," he said. Jaime Gonzales suffered from extreme burns to his lungs as a result, in addition to third degree burns on his chest, face and hands.

St. Gall Catholic Church held a prayer service and fund-raiser for the family and has so far collected $2,400.

Anyone wishing to donate can contact Bank of America. Account number 004964151075. The money will be divided evenly among the men.


Donations may be made to help surviving burn victims at any Bank of America, account number 004964151075. The money will be divided evenly among the men.


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