Explosions from a chemical plant fire forced about a dozen people in a western Oklahoma town from their homes and shut down a state highway, authorities are reporting. No one was injured.
The fire began late Wednesday at a Danlin Industries plant near the Oklahoma town of Thomas, which has a population of fewer than 1,200 and sits less than 100 miles northwest of Oklahoma City. Officials say the fire started about three hours after the last employees left the plant. No one was inside when the blaze began.
The first 911 call came in shortly before midnight.
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“The entire facility burned down,” Michael Galloway, director of emergency management for Custer County, told Reuters
. Crews were able to extinguish the flames by early Thursday, he added.
The Oklahoman newspaper said the plant houses flammable, corrosive, and toxic materials,
and notes that the company’s website states the chemicals are used in petroleum production and drilling.
The fire led the Oklahoma Highway Patrol to shut down state Highway 47 northwest of Thomas in Custer County.
Authorities had not determined what caused the fire. Initial reports pinned the cause of the fire on the explosions, but authorities now say it was the other way around.
“The complex consists of a warehouse, a lab, and an office, and the fire is what caused the explosions because pressurized containers within the facility were heated up,” Gollway said, according to an NBC report
Galloway said the fire had largely burned itself out.
Chemical plant fires and explosions are not rare, and that has led some to make calls for federal agencies to do more to ensure safety. An explosion and fire at a petrochemical plant near Baton Rouge, La., in June
left one person dead and scores injured while forcing residents within two miles of the facility to stay indoors.
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