Florida Propane Explosion Injures 8 Workers at Refilling Plant

Tuesday, 30 Jul 2013 11:09 AM

By Alexandra Ward

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Dozens of propane tanks exploded at a refilling plant in central Florida Monday night, injuring eight workers and triggering an evacuation of nearby homes.

Fire officials said equipment failure and human error likely led to the chain reaction of explosions at the Blue Rhino plant in Tavares, a community of some 14,000 people about 30 miles northwest of Orlando, CNN reported.

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About 20 propane cylinders went up in flames around 10:30 p.m., igniting trucks parked at the facility and illuminating the sky.



"You could see the explosions from across the lake," Ashley McCormick, a resident in nearby Mount Dora, told CNN. "They were very intense."

Blue Rhino refills propane tanks used in gas grills. Customers are able to send in old tanks through the company's trade-in service in exchange for new ones. The Tavares site had about 53,000 tanks on its property.

Eight workers were injured in the blasts, and most of them remain in critical condition with burns. Initial reports indicated that 15 people were missing, but everyone was later accounted for.

"The fact that there are no fatalities is a blessing," John Drury, the city administrator of Tavares, told CNN. "This was a big deal, and a lot of people responded quickly."

Police and fire officials immediately set up a half-mile evacuation area and began dousing the flames with water.

The fire was under control by 2 a.m.

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