One person died and at least two others were critically hurt in an explosion and fire at a Texas chemical plant when a tank holding a flammable chemical caught fire. Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez confirmed the fatality in a tweet and said the two injured had been taken by helicopter to a hospital.
Authorities shut down a roadway Tuesday near the fire at the KMCO chemical plant, which is in Crosby, about 25 miles northeast of Houston, Gonzalez said. KMCO is a chemical company that offers coolant and brake fluid products and chemicals for the oilfield industry.
The explosion happened around 10:45 a.m. and by 2:15 p.m., the fire appeared to be mostly contained, according to CBS affiliate KHOU.
All residents within a one-mile radius of the plant were ordered to stay indoors or shelter in place.
Worker Justin Trahan told Houston television station KPRC that he heard “some panic on the radio” but no alarms sounding before the plant caught fire. “We didn’t think anything of it – we didn’t think it was anything severe,” he said.
Trahan said employees began running after “the tank ignited.” He said he and other colleagues had to jump over a fence to escape because all the gates were locked.
The fire comes about two weeks after a March 17 blaze at a petrochemical storage facility in Deer Park, located about 20 miles south of Crosby. That earlier fire burned for days and triggered air quality warnings.