An employee was flown to Salt Lake City with second- and possible third-degree burns Tuesday, after an incident at a Norco Inc. plant in South Boise.
There was a “small fire” Tuesday afternoon at the Boise company’s fuel-gas plant on Gowen Road, according to Norco President Ned Pontious.
The male employee was taking two small, empty cylinders out to a dock, but they contained residual acetylene gas that Pontious thinks must have been leaking. The gas ignited, and “when the flame shot up, it melted the fusible link on the cylinder,” he said.
The employee turned away, and the flame burned the back of his arm and shoulder. The plant manager put out the fire “within 30 seconds, probably,” Pontious said.
Ada County emergency dispatchers received a call about the incident shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday. The dispatch report said a welding tank caught fire, and one employee with head and arm burns was taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center.
Pontious said Norco called the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration within an hour to report the incident, and an OSHA investigator came the next morning to interview staffers and take video.
Pontious said Norco is working on an internal investigation. The fire was “a very unusual accident” for Norco and at that plant, he said.
Boise does not have a burn specialty unit in any of its hospitals, so patients frequently are flown to Utah for burn care.
The employee’s care and his lost days at work will be paid for by worker’s compensation insurance, Pontious said.