Florida gas plant explosion rocks central Florida
A Florida gas plant explosion sent 'boom after boom after boom' through the central Florida neighborhood around it early Tuesday. Several people were injured in the Florida gas plant explosion, with at least three critically injured.
A series of explosions rocked a central¬†Florida¬†propane¬†gas¬†plant¬†and sent "boom after boom after boom" through the neighborhood around it. Several people were injured, with at least three critically injured.
All the workers at the¬†plant¬†were accounted for early Tuesday after officials initially could not account for more than a dozen employees.
John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said there were no fatalities despite massive blasts that ripped through the Blue Rhino propane¬†plant¬†late Monday night.
"Management is comfortable saying all of those they knew were there tonight have been accounted for," he said.
One person injured in the explosion was listed in critical condition at University of¬†Florida¬†Health Shands Hospital. Two others were listed in critical condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center and a spokeswoman there said a third patient was en route, also listed as critical.
Herrell said some others drove themselves to area hospitals.
The Blue Rhino¬†plant, which is northwest of Orlando, refilled propane tanks typically used for barbecues and other uses.
Herrell said a crew of 24 to 26 people was working at the¬†plant¬†on an overnight shift when the explosions occurred around 11 p.m.
Video footage on WESH-TV in Orlando showed fires burning through trucks used to transport propane tanks, which were parked at the¬†plant. The fire was sending plumes of smoke into the air hours after the blast. Emergency crews could also be seen massing nearby.
Herrell said an evacuation zone was initially a one-mile radius but had been reduced to a half-mile radius. No injuries have been reported from residents in the neighborhood and residents were later allowed to return to their homes.
Marni Whitehead, 33, who lives less than a mile from the¬†plant, said she was in bed ready to go to sleep when she heard a loud boom.
"It was like a car had run into my house, is what I thought had happened," she said.
She ran outside and saw other neighbors outside and then they saw the explosions.
"We knew right away it was the¬†plant, the propane¬†plant," Whitehead said. "After that, it was just sort of panic."
Whitehead likened the explosions to Fourth of July fireworks. "And it was just boom after boom after boom," she said.
Herrell said officials believe the fire was contained and wouldn't spread to another part of the¬†plant¬†but they could not guarantee that.
Herrell said the¬†plant¬†usually has 53,000 20-pound propane tanks.
According to the Leesburg Daily Commercial, the¬†plant¬†was built in 2004 and employs fewer than 50 people.