Emergency authorities in Texas have issued a 3-county wide shelter-in-place order after a large chemical plant fire has erupted in Shepherd, TX – which is in San Jacinto County – north of Houston in east Texas.
“At this time, the effects of the chemical in the air are unknown,” the neighboring Polk County Emergency Management said in a social media post. Area schools have been evacuated and people have been warned to turn off their HVAC systems.
Reports of a fiery explosion at the plant first emerged mid-morning, and initially the shelter-in-place order was issued for a whopping 5-mile radius, but as several emergency crews battled the blaze the shelter radius was later reduced to one mile.
Southwest winds continue to be of serious concern for Texas residents living closer to the Gulf coast, according to reports.
BREAKING: A Massive Fire Has Broken Out at a Petroleum Processing Plant in Shepherd, TX
Multiple fire agencies are on the scene and residents within a five-mile radius are being asked to shelter in place. pic.twitter.com/NSQZtegwGZ
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) November 8, 2023
At least one worker has been reported injured in the plant fire burning on FM 1127 in Shepherd – a town with just over 2,000 residents. According to a local ABC news affiliate:
ABC13’s investigative reporter Kevin Ozebek spoke to a a current employee who said there was one man who was injured in a “freak accident” that was caused by a forklift incident. The source said the injured employee was taken to Memorial Hermann with second-degree burns to his arms and first-degree burns to his face. The source told us the injured employee is in good spirits and expected to be OK.
A representative from Sound Resource Solutions reported to ABC that all 40 employees are accounted for and only one suffered a minor injury and is being treated for burns.
Huge, thick black clouds of smoke could be observed stretching for several miles.
DEVELOPING: Dark smoke and flames rise high into the sky at the site of a massive reported chemical fire in San Jacinto County, Texas. pic.twitter.com/7boNpvjWsB
— ABC News (@ABC) November 8, 2023
Limited evacuations of the area continue to take place amid growing concerns over wind gusts possibly sending the chemical plume closer to the ground, and pending an investigation of what precise chemicals have been burning and how dangerous the air quality might be.