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Fraser employee dies of injuries

The Fraser Shipyards employee who was injured while working on a Great Lakes freighter in February has died.

Joseph Burch, a member of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers Local 117 and a 22-year employee of the company, died Saturday night, according to his family.

"He loved the work there," said Burch's brother, Eric Mackie of Duluth. "He was proud to work for Fraser."

Burch, 53, of Superior leaves behind four siblings, his mother, nieces and nephews.

"He was a generous man," Mackie said. "He really cared for his family."

A veteran, Burch served in the U.S. Army in Anchorage, Alaska, as well as the National Guard.

"He was an avid outdoorsman," Mackie said. "He'd hunt, fish, go camping."

The Superior native died as a result of injuries suffered in the Feb. 6 accident on a boat that was moored in the Twin Ports for repairs during winter lay-up.

"He never recovered from the burns," Mackie said.

"I would say he was a very brave man," said Mackie's wife, Amy.

They said Burch suffered burns to his lower extremities and had multiple infections related to the burns over the last few weeks, including sepsis.

"Fraser Shipyards is saddened to learn of the death of Mr. Burch. We wish to extend our condolences and deepest sympathies to his family and friends," said James Farkas, president and chief operating officer of Fraser Industries, the parent company. "All of us at Fraser are thinking about him and those who loved him at this time of loss."

Fraser officials said in March that they were working with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers to investigate the accident that left Burch hospitalized with burns.

The company said Monday that the case is still open and that the OSHA investigation is still ongoing.

The incident came just weeks after Fraser announced a settlement with OSHA after the shipyard was alleged to have overexposed workers to lead during the repowering of the freighter Herbert C. Jackson last year. OSHA cited Fraser with 14 health violations, and the original civil penalty was nearly $1.4 million dollars. Under the terms of the settlement, Fraser had to pay a $700,000 fine and develop a new safety plan.