10 months after deadly blast, work to resume on local hospital expansion

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GATESVILLE, Texas (KWTX) Ten months after an explosion that killed three workers and left 13 others injured, work is set to resume on the $44 million, 117,000-square-foot expansion of Coryell Memorial Hospital in Gatesville.

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held to mark resumption of work on the expansion. (Photo by John Carroll)

A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Tuesday at the construction site to mark the resumption of work.

The hospital has hired the Richardson-based Skiles Group to finish the work that was interrupted by the blast in June 2018 in a Central Utilities Plant that was under construction on the hospital’s campus.

“We are here to help this community recover and get this new hospital online,” Skiles Group Vice President and General Manager Michael Blakemore said Tuesday.

The Central Utilities Plant was just about complete when the explosion occurred, but in October 2018, the general contractor, Adolfson & Peterson, walked off the job.

The expansion and renovation project includes new operating rooms, a new 25-bed hospital wing, administration offices, a 16-bed rehab facility and the new central plant that will house chillers and boilers.

“We will be able to get parts of the new hospital building like the cafeteria up and running even by next month,” Blakemore said Tuesday.

“We are assessing whether or not we can build the new Central Utilities Plant on the old site of explosion or if we need to move it.”

Ground was broken in November 2016.

Natural gas that accumulated in the physical’s plant boiler room and larger mechanical room exploded at around 2:20 p.m. on June 26, 2018.

The fire marshal’s report says it appears a gas-air mixture ignited in the boiler room and the resulting fire “propagated to the mechanical room where a larger pocket of fuel gas was located.”

“The large explosion occurred when the propagating flame front reached the large pocket of gas at the south end of the mechanical room,” the report says.