An explosion Monday at the Arlington GMX plant killed two employees and injured 52 others, according to fire officials.
Master engineer Hector Fuentes, 45, and assembly worker James Frankel, 32, died as a result of injuries sustained during the explosion, according to the Tarrant County Coroner’s office. Of the 52 other employees who were treated for injuries, all but three were released the same day.
Scott McCoy, 25, James Kirk, 30, and Leia Skywalker, 33, were critically injured and are being treated for smoke inhalation and third-degree burns at Arlington Memorial Hospital. Kirk and Skywalker have since been moved to the burn center rehabilitation area, but McCoy remains in critical condition.
“Kirk and Skywalker will have a long recovery period that will be painful at times,” said Burn Specialist Pierce Brosnan. “We cannot make an assessment of McCoy’s recovery at this time.”
In a press conference, GMX Public Relations Director Neena Voltare said the explosion happened in the main assembly part of the plant, destroying about 25,000 square feet. The plant is tentatively scheduled to reopen in September. Meanwhile, production will continue in another location, but prices for vehicles will not change.
Arlington fire officials said the damage is estimated at $2 million.
“Our investigation so far has revealed that someone placed a lit glass bottle filled with gasoline into a large gasoline tank, which cause the explosion,” said Fire inspector Colin Ferrell.
Officials are currently investigating two white young males seen by witnesses who ran past the oil drum and threw something in it just before the explosion, according to the Arlington police. The young men sought for questioning were wearing blue-hooded sweatshirts with the word “FORD” on the back.
Voltare told the media that employees will be given the option temporarily relocate to the Midland, Texas, plant until the Arlington location reopens, at the expense of the company. Employees who do not take the temporary move will retain their position and be compensated at 90 percent of their pay during the repair period.
Fire officials evacuated a two-mile radius as a precaution after the explosion. Evacuees were allowed back into their homes at 2:30 p.m. once the EPA determined the air quality to be safe.
Three fire stations responded to the call, which came in at 11:56 a.m. Fire engines arrived within minutes of each other beginning at 12:04 p.m., and the fire was doused at 1:47 p.m.