UPDATE 1-Airgas distribution center shut after blast, two injured

Mon May 13, 2013 9:15pm EDT

* West Virginia facility closed after explosion, fire -Airgas

* Airgas does not say how long shutdown will last

* Fire has been contained -county official

May 13 (Reuters) - An Airgas Inc distribution center in Putnam Country, West Virginia, has been closed after two people were injured in an explosion and fire at the facility, the company said on Monday.

The center handles industrial gases including nitrogen, acetylene and oxygen that do not pose an immediate threat to public safety, though a section of adjoining highway has been closed, said Jason Owens, deputy director of public safety at the Putnam County Office of Emergency Management.

"About 3:20 p.m. (1920 GMT) they had an explosion and fire," he said. "The fire is contained. However, it is still burning because they don't want to let the product vent into the atmosphere."

Airgas said in a statement that an investigation into the cause of the incident was underway and that the company was working with local authorities and emergency personnel. It did not say how long the center would be closed.

Airgas shares closed down 1 percent at $96.72 on the New York Stock Exchange. Airgas officials were not immediately available for comment.

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