Fire at exploded Hood County chemical plant being allowed to burn

Search crews are running into difficulties in their search of a burned chemical plant in Hood County.

Officials are still hoping to recover the remains of 27-year-old Dylan Mitchell, a worker who went missing and is presumed dead after the explosion last Thursday at the Tri-Chem Industries plant in Cresson. However, winds and the still smoldering fire have slowed done the search.

Investigators with the Hood County fire marshal dressed in hazmat suits and masks and walked carefully through the debris and puddles of chemicals on Monday. They looked for clues on the cause of the explosion and for any sign of Mitchell.

Mitchell's family didn't comment as the anguish grows with each hour they wait, knowing at any moment their worst fears may be realized.

"We have a general area to look where the individual was last seen. Based on witness accounts is how we got that information,” explained Hood County Fire Marshal Ray Wilson. “We are expanding the search from that area to other parts of the building."

Wilson says there is still considerable danger in the plant. Chemicals cover the floor and a couple of smaller fires are still burning.

Cresson Mayor and Assistant Fire Chief Bob Cornett said Sunday that conditions at the 15,000-square-foot Tri-Chem Industries plant are "just too hot" and "just too dangerous." He says rains Saturday night aggravated chemicals and acids at the site about 25 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Cornett says the plant is being guarded to ensure no one enters. He says state and federal environmental and workplace officials are standing by to assist local authorities.

The fire marshal says they haven't tried to put out the smaller fires because they can't be sure how the chemicals would react with water. They don't want anything else to hamper their search.

Two other workers were also injured in Thursday's explosion.