Crews re-entered Chemcentral's Kansas City, Mo., USA plant today after an explosion and fire wreaked havoc at the site yesterday night. At approximately 2:15 p.m. yesterday, a blast was heard and seen from the plant. Although the cause of the explosion has not yet been determined, the flames and thick black smoke soon spread in the air creating a mushroom-shaped plume that could be seen for miles.
A ChemCentral employee told the Kansas City Star that the fire started behind the warehouse. Nine employees were in the area at the time, but there were no serious injuries reported. Firefighters immediately tried to control the flames that resulted from the blast, but they had to back off for fear of chemical runoff. Later yesterday night, fire trucks returned with foam to fight the blaze. Although the fire spread to nearby houses and buildings, a five-block mandatory evacuation was put into place after the exposion to protect the plant's neighbors. In addition, a 1-mile voluntary evacuation notice was put into place.
After nearly nine hours of flames, only spot fires now remain. Emergency officials are still in the process of extinguishing all fires and deciding whether or not families can return to their homes.
In addition, city health officials have directed their attention to air toxicity as a result of the blast. Late Wednesday night, the Kansas City Health Department found no toxic chemicals in the plume. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also flew a plane above the blast yesterday; however, EPA toxicity test results are not yet available.