Series of explosions rocks Texas chemical supplier

Ambulances were sent to the scene as a precaution, but no injuries were reported.


The Associated Press

CONROE, Texas — A series of explosions rocked an oil filed chemical supply company north of Houston on Friday, setting off a fire that sent a broad, dense column of thick, black smoke towering into the otherwise blue skies.

Authorities knew of no injuries from the explosions and blaze that erupted about 4:30 p.m., said Conroe Fire Marshal Mike Legoudes.

Smoke rises from a series of explosions from the oil field chemical supply firm DrillChem in Conroe, Texas, on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. The dense column of thick, black smoke was visible for miles. (Brandon K. Scott/Conroe Courier via AP)
Smoke rises from a series of explosions from the oil field chemical supply firm DrillChem in Conroe, Texas, on Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. The dense column of thick, black smoke was visible for miles. (Brandon K. Scott/Conroe Courier via AP)

Firefighters took about two hours to bring the fire under control at the DrillChem plant on the eastern fringe of Conroe, about 40 miles north of Houston. It was unclear if anyone was in the building at the time of the explosions.

Jennifer Nichols-Contella, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Hospital District, said ambulances were sent to the scene as a precaution, but no injuries were reported.

Units from several fire departments and a hazardous-materials team were at the scene. Residents up to 2 miles from the fire site were told to remain indoors. By nightfall, the alert had been reduced to a half-mile radius.

The cause of the explosions was unclear and an investigation has begun, Legoudes said. Air monitors have been set up to check for toxic air pollutants, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been notified, he said.

Wayne Patterson, who lives less than a mile from the facility, had just stepped from his back door with his dogs when he "saw a huge cloud of black smoke," he told The (Conroe) Courier newspaper.

"The last explosion ... we heard about three or four, but the last one shook the house," he said.

Patterson said he received a text message requesting to turn his air conditioning off. His son, who lives about a half-mile away from the explosion, drove to Patterson's house to seek shelter.

"Our eyes were burning. It's not too bad, but they are burning," he said.

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