Daisetta community mourning resident killed in KMCO explosion

James "Bubba" Mangum was killed Tuesday, April 2, in an explosion at the KMCO plant in Crosby.

By Vanesa Brashier, editor@bluebonnetnews.com

Tuesday’s explosion at the KMCO plant in Crosby claimed the life of a 27-year-old Daisetta resident, James “Bubba” Mangum.

Mangum’s family, in a statement from their attorney, confirmed his passing and asked for privacy as they grieve and plan his funeral.

“The family of James Earl ‘Bubba’ Mangum III appreciates the condolences and concern express by so many of you from our community. While we understand the public interest in the events that took Bubba from us yesterday, the deep pain of this unexpected loss requires time and privacy to process,” the statement reads.

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The family says Mangum will be remembered as a loving brother, co-worker, family member and friend. He was a 2010 graduate of Hull-Daisetta High School and a 2014 graduate of Sam Houston State University.

“His passing is a great loss, not only to his family, but to our entire community,” the statement continues.

Daisetta Interim Police Chief Kelvin Burks has known Mangum for 10 years. The two were neighbors in the small Liberty County community of Daisetta. With only 1,000 residents in Daisetta, Burks says the town is close-knit.

“Bubba was definitely one of the good guys. If I called him at 10 o’clock at night and needed help with something, he would be there. He was just the biggest-hearted, most generous 27-year-old kid you could ever meet,” Burks said. “He would go out of his way for his family and friends.”

Mangum was always cheerful and optimistic.

“Never did he not have a smile on his face, not ever,” the chief said. “We saw him all the time. I would help him do things at his property and he would help me with mine. We would feed him lunch sometimes on Sunday with our family dinners. We cooked out a lot and he came over.”

When news of his passing began to become known in Liberty County, Burks was shocked to hear it was his friend and neighbor. As word came that Mangum might have been attempting to stop the disaster when he was killed, Burks said he was not surprised.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if that were true. That is just the kind of guy he was,” Burks said.

The chief said it will be hard in the coming days for the community as it comes to grips with Mangum’s death.

“This morning, by habit, I looked out the window to see if he was home. It’s hard to believe we’ll never see him again,” he said.

EXPLOSION UNDER INVESTIGATION

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed Tuesday that two other people were critically injured, requiring LifeFlight to airlift them to Houston trauma centers.

“Preliminary, from interviews with the company, is it believed that an isobutylene transfer line caught fire, spreading to the warehouse. Investigators will work to determine the exact origin and cause of this fire,” according to a statement from the fire marshal’s office.

The explosion occurred around 11:25 a.m. Tuesday, prompting shelter-in-place orders for Sheldon ISD and residents of Crosby who lived within the area of the KMCO plant.

By 7:30 p.m., firefighters with Crosby Volunteer Fire Department, along with other agencies, had brought the fire under control and were turning over the incident operations to Mutual Aid Mont Belvieu Industrial.

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