One person was injured and nearby communities locked down after a blast in Texas
A plant making chemical solvents in southern Texas exploded and caught fire on Wednesday, prompting nearby communities to shelter in place to avoid potentially toxic fumes. A nearby school was evacuated.
The explosion took place at Sound Resource Solutions in Shepherd, a community of 2,000 residents about 60 miles (100 km) northeast of Houston.
One person suffered “minor burns” and is being treated at a local hospital, while 40 or so other employees made it to safety, company president Geoff Harfield told reporters. The cause of the blast was not immediately known.
San Jacinto County officials initially ordered everyone within a five-mile (eight-kilometer) radius to shelter in place, but later reduced it to one mile. A private school located on the same road as the company was evacuated out of an abundance of caution.
Photos and videos circulating on social media show clouds of thick black smoke billowing into the sky.
Massive plant explosion in San Jacinto County, Texas. No further details….KTRK pic.twitter.com/d1YW9m0HVz
— Volcaholic 🌋 (@volcaholic1) November 8, 2023
This is the scene on US 59 in San Jacinto County. US 59 remains closed for now from FM 1988 to Exit 451B due to a chemical fire on FM 1127. Crews and law enforcement are on the scene. Detours at Exit 451B in Shepherd, and at FM 1988 in Polk County. Prepare for delays. pic.twitter.com/PoKV1D49t4
— TxDOT Lufkin (@TxDOTLufkin) November 8, 2023
Officials in neighboring Polk County warned residents to close all windows and turn off their air conditioners, noting that the smoke was heading up US Highway 59 towards the city of Livingston.
While it was not known which chemicals may have been released by the fire, the plant makes “solvents for glue and paint remover” that are known to have “acute toxicity, carcinogenicity and reproductive toxicity” and could cause serious eye damage and skin irritation, as well as lung and organ damage if inhaled, Polk County said.
Large chemical plant fire burning in San Jacinto County right now.
Video from a neighbor off FM1127 shows a huge plume of black smoke at Sound Resource Solutions. @KHOU
— Wiley Post (@WileyPostKHOU) November 8, 2023
There is a chemical plant explosion in Shepherd Texas right now
San Jacinto Sheriff has given a shelter in place advisory pic.twitter.com/LERitRRVbU
— TexanLady (@TexanLady40) November 8, 2023