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Victims of Tarpon Springs fuel plant explosion identified

An injured person is loaded into a helicopter ambulance Thursay afternoon at a Magnegas Corp. facility at 150 Rainville Road in Tarpon Springs.
An injured person is loaded into a helicopter ambulance Thursay afternoon at a Magnegas Corp. facility at 150 Rainville Road in Tarpon Springs.
Published Apr. 17, 2015

TARPON SPRINGS — Authorities have identified a man that died and another who was injured during an explosion Thursday at the MagneGas fuel facility.

Michael D. Sheppard, 29, of Safety Harbor, was found dead at the scene. Eric R. Newell, 41, of Largo, was flown to Tampa General Hospital, where he was listed in stable condition Friday, Tarpon Springs police said.

Police received 911 calls at 1:56 p.m. Thursday about a blast at MagneGas Corp., an alternative-energy company at 150 Rainville Road, just north of the Sponge Docks district.

The explosion happened behind the 5,000-square-foot building. About 20 to 25 employees were evacuated as firefighters searched for hazardous materials. The State Fire Marshal's Office will be investigating the cause.

On Friday morning, the facility was closed as several officials, including one from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, gathered at the property to continue investigating.

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