3 hurt in Texas plant ex­plo­sion; thou­sands must stay in­doors

Lodi News-Sentinel - - STATE / NATION - By Mark Price

An ex­plo­sion early Wed­nes­day at the TPC Group plant near Beau­mont, Texas, prompted evac­u­a­tions and an or­der that all 16,000 peo­ple in one town stay in­doors.

Three in­juries have been re­ported, all of them staff at the Port Neches re­fin­ery site in East Texas, com­pany of­fi­cials said.

The Ned­er­land Vol­un­teer Fire De­part­ment called for “a manda­tory evac­u­a­tion for ev­ery­one within a half-mile of the TPC plant” about an hour after the ex­plo­sion, which hap­pened about 1 a.m.

“This could change and ex­pand to a greater area,” the de­part­ment posted.

In Groves, Texas, south of the plant, the fire de­part­ment warned the en­tire town to “shel­ter in place.” The or­der was lifted about 6:30 a.m.

“Due to a wind shift the smoke plume has shifted in our di­rec­tion. The plume is com­ing from un­pro­cessed crude oil,” the town’s fire de­part­ment posted on Face­book.

“The event is on­go­ing, but will be brought un­der con­trol as quickly and safely as pos­si­ble,” TPC of­fi­cials said in a state­ment early Wed­nes­day.

“Right now our fo­cus is on pro­tect­ing the safety of re­spon­ders and the pub­lic, and min­i­miz­ing any im­pact to the en­vi­ron­ment.”

The plant has been evac­u­ated, and all staff have been ac­counted for, of­fi­cials said.

Alica Wolf­ford Al­maraz, who says she lives in Groves, posted photos on Face­book of the fire and re­ported “select neigh­bor­hoods” were be­ing evac­u­ated.

“There was a LOUD boom and huge fire,” she wrote. “Lots of re­ports of blown out win­dows and house dam­ages ... .lots of freaked out peo­ple. Please keep all emer­gency work­ers and plant work­ers in your prayers as they deal with the af­ter­math.”

The plant is 300 miles south­east of Fort Worth, Texas, near the Louisiana border.

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