DALLAS (AP) — Two explosions were reported early Thursday at a Houston-area chemical plant that lost power amid flooding from Harvey.
A statement from the Arkema Inc. company said the Harris County Emergency Operations Center reported two explosions and black smoke coming from the plant at about 2 a.m.
In a tweet, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy was taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes. Nine other deputies drove themselves to the hospital as a precaution.
A tweet from the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office confirmed there had been “a series of chemical reactions” at the plant and advised people to stay away from the area.
A spokeswoman for the plant in Crosby, Texas, said late Wednesday that the flooded facility had lost power and backup generators amid Harvey flooding, leaving it without refrigeration for chemicals that become volatile as the temperature rises. The plant is about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston.
“The fire will happen. It will resemble a gasoline fire. It will be explosive and intense in nature,” spokeswoman Janet Smith told The Associated Press late Wednesday.
There was “no way to prevent” the explosion, chief executive Rich Rowe said earlier Wednesday.
Arkema manufactures organic peroxides, a family of compounds used for making everything from pharmaceuticals to construction materials.
“As the temperature rises, the natural state of these materials will decompose. A white smoke will result, and that will catch fire,” Smith said.
“So the fire is imminent. The question is when.”
The company shut down the Crosby site before Harvey made landfall last week, but a crew of 11 had stayed behind. That group was removed and residents within 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) were told to evacuate Tuesday after the plant lost power.
The plant falls along a stretch near Houston that features one of the largest concentrations of refineries, pipelines and chemical plants in the country.
Associated Press writer Claudia Lauer in Dallas contributed to this report.
(Godofredo A. Vasquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)
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