Shelter-in-place order after Texas chemical plant explosion
On Wednesday, a substantial fire broke out at a chemical plant in the rural region of Texas, causing a thick plume of dark smoke to billow into the sky. In response, local authorities took swift action by closing a nearby highway and issuing a shelter-in-place directive for residents.
The shelter-in-place order was specifically targeted at individuals residing within a one-mile radius of the Shepherd-based chemical plant, situated approximately 60 miles (about 100 kilometers) to the northeast of Houston. Shepherd, known for its predominantly rural character, was the location of this incident.
The explosion occurred at the premises of Sound Resource Solutions, a company primarily engaged in recycling and repackaging various chemicals, as confirmed by officials in San Jacinto County. Reports of the explosion started flooding in shortly after 8 a.m., prompting an immediate response from the authorities.
As of now, details about the possible cause of the explosion or the containment strategy remain undisclosed by the officials.
According to Capers, one of the plant's employees sustained minor burns to his body and was promptly transported to a hospital, where he remains in stable condition. Initial reports suggested that the fire involved flammable liquids, possibly including diesel and turpentine.
The solvents manufactured at the factory serve the purpose of producing adhesive and paint remover, as stated by the Polk County Office of Emergency Management in an official statement. This agency also cautioned that the chemicals originating from the plant possess toxicity and have the potential to cause eye and skin irritation.
Shortly after the fire broke out at the plant, residents captured videos depicting a significant plume of smoke emanating from the facility.
The Polk County Sheriff's Office took to Facebook to alert the public that the plume may be heading in the direction of the Livingston area. In response to this potential hazard, local authorities advised residents to take shelter and to deactivate their HVAC air conditioning systems.
Capers reported that at the time of the explosion, 19 out of the 37 employees employed by Sound Resource Solutions were on-site.
Additionally, a nearby private school with 31 children in close proximity to the explosion site was successfully evacuated. The evacuation was carried out by guiding the students through a pasture, and they have since been reunited with their parents, as confirmed by Capers.