Authorities have evacuated the small Washington town of Plymouth after an explosion at a factory which shot a fireball up 30 feet high or more. The explosion occurred at the Williams plant, according to the Los Angeles Times. It happened at 8:20 local time.
Fire out at Plymouth factory
The Benton County, Wash. sheriff told the media that at least one of the injured people worked at the facility. However, he did not have any details on the conditions of any of the victims. NBC is reporting that one worker was burned in the explosion. The sheriff did say the fire is out, but the explosion shot debris and shrapnel into a tank in which natural gas is stored. Officials said a pipeline burst, which sent a piece of the pipe into the natural gas storage tank. They do not yet know what caused the pipeline to burst.
Officials on the scene told the sheriff that the tank might have been about half full. It started to leak, and those in the area could smell fumes.
Area residents evacuated safely
Those who live in the area where the explosion occurred reported seeing smoke and feeling the explosion as far away was three miles. The facility where the explosion happened is located just west of the town of Plymouth, Wash., which is home to about 300 or 400 people. Authorities initially moved the town’s residents to the Hermiston Convention Center but then relocated them to the Hermiston fairgrounds.
Officials were able to account for all of the employees after the explosion. It is still too early to know the extent of the damage. They are now waiting for the storage tank to drain before they will be able to repair it.
A safety team from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission arrived on the scene a short time ago. They will begin trying to determine what caused the explosion as soon as firefighters finish securing the site.