The State Fire Marshal says a mechanical failure led to an explosion that killed an employee of a Tarpon Springs gas plant.
Michael D. Sheppard, 29, of Safety Harbor, was killed in the blast at the MagneGas Corporation plant, police said. Investigators said Sheppard was operating the tank at the time of the mechanical failure. They said it appears as though he was wearing the proper safety gear and handling the equipment appropriately.
Eric R. Newell, 41, of Largo, was nearby at the time of the explosion. Investigators said they don't know if he was also operating the equipment at the time. Newell was seriously injured and flown to Tampa General Hospital where he remains in stable condition.
Between 20 and 25 employees were in the building at the time. Some of them received minor injuries and were treated on scene. The employees are being offered crisis counseling, as well as giving them a paid week off so they can grieve.
Officials say industry experts have been called in to determine what led to the mechanical failure.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating. The agency said it doesn't have any history with the company.