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Industry fire survivor encourages barge fire victims

Posted at 8:24 PM, Aug 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-28 00:45:57-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — On July 19, 2009 Gabriel Alvarado's life was forever changed.

An explosion at a Corpus Christi refinery left him badly burned over 60 percent of his body -- along with other injuries.

“The loss of my (left arm), the (inability to move) my fingers," Alvarado said. "I still seek therapy every day. And it’s going to be ongoing. It’s going to be lifetime (of therapy)."

Friday's explosion and fire at the Port of Corpus Christi brought back the painful memories.

“You know it was heartfelt," Alvarado said of his reaction to the fire. "Pain of sadness. A lot of emotions went through my daughter and my wife, because it’s almost a reenactment of (the day of his accident)."

Alvarado says he's been through more than 60 surgeries and countless other treatments to be able to walk and see among other functions.

“Through my faith in Christ and power of prayer that I had backing me up and the love of my family supporting me, I’m here where I am," he said.

Orion Marine Group, the company that operated the dredging barge that hit a propane pipeline Friday sparking the blast, did not have an update on the condition of the five workers who were sent to a burn unit at a San Antonio hospital after last week's explosion.

But bad burns are bad burns, and Alvarado says the victims likely have a long road to recovery.

“It’s going to be a marathon not a sprint,” he said.

Alvarado also offered the victims words of encouragement -- if he can come back from his debilitating burns, so can they.

"I’m a walking miracle," he said. "You can be too. It just takes strength, and love, and just power of prayer, and the faith of Christ.”