The Latest: Officials say no clear end yet to plant fire

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Officials say they have no estimate yet for how much time is needed to bring under control a Texas chemical plant fire ignited by a series of explosions

The Latest on explosions at a chemical plant in Texas (all times local):

8:22 p.m.

Officials say they have no estimate for how much time is needed to bring under control a Texas chemical plant fire ignited by a series of explosions.

At a Wednesday night news conference, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick said officials had been unable to determine what caused the two explosions earlier in the day at the TCP Group plant because of a loss of electric power in the Port Neches plant.

The initial, early morning explosion caused three non-life-threatening injuries but caused extensive damage to the neighborhoods surrounding the plant. But Branick said the second explosion Wednesday afternoon that sent a large reactor tower rocketing high into the sky made clear that surrounding tanks of explosive materials were still in jeopardy. He said that prompted the mandatory evacuation of a four-mile (seven-kilometer) radius from the plant. Water cannons are training water on the tanks in an effort to keep them cool and avoid further explosions.

Branick said round-the-clock air monitoring has yet to show a threat to the public from the smoke plume from fire.


3:45 p.m.

A second explosion has torn through a Southeast Texas chemical plant about 13 hours after an initial blast injured three workers.

Witnesses say the explosion erupted shortly after 2 p.m. Wednesday at the plant TCP Group operates in Port Neches, about 80 miles (129 kilometers) east of Houston. The force of the blast hurled debris high into the air, but no more injuries were immediately reported.

Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick has ordered a mandatory evacuation of a 4-mile (7-kilometer) radius around the plant, including Port Neches and neighboring Groves, Nederland and part of Port Arthur.


12 p.m.

A company that owns a Texas plant that was rocked by an explosion says firefighters remain in a defensive mode as they continue trying to extinguish a blaze at the facility.

Troy Monk, director of health safety and security with TPC Group, said at a news conference Wednesday that it’s unclear how long it will take to extinguish the fire that erupted after the 1 a.m. explosion at TPC’s plant in Port Neches, about 80 miles east of Houston.

Monk said the three workers who were injured during the blast — two TPC employees and a contractor — have been treated and released from hospitals in Port Arthur and Houston.

Monk said officials have not determined what caused the explosion, which blew out windows and knocked down doors of nearby homes.


8:30 a.m.

Environmental officials are monitoring the air quality after an explosion at a Texas plant sent a huge plume of smoke into the sky.

Jefferson County Emergency Management coordinator Mike White tells the Beaumont Enterprise that no elevated chemical levels have been detected so far after the 1 a.m. Wednesday explosion at a TPC Group plant in Port Neches, about 80 miles east of Houston.

Two TPC employees and a contractor were injured in the blast, which also blew out windows and knocked down doors at nearby homes. White says five residents are being treated for minor injuries, mostly related to shattered glass.

TPC said later Wednesday morning that it had no details on the cause of the explosion or the extent of damage to the plant.


2:30 a.m.

A plant that produces chemical and petroleum-based products in East Texas has exploded, blowing out windows on homes several miles away.

KFDM-TV reports that County Judge Jeff Branick says the explosion originated at a plant in Port Neches, near the Louisiana border.

TPC Group says on its website that it provides a diverse range of quality products to chemical and petroleum-based companies worldwide. The site says the company employs more than 175 full-time employees and 50 contractors.

The Nederland Volunteer Fire Department said on its Facebook page that there is a mandatory evacuation for everyone within a half mile of the TPC plant. It said the evacuation could expand to a greater area.

No injuries have been reported.

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