The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Breaking News

July 30, 2013

No fatalities after Fla. gas plant blast

TAVARES, Fla. — All workers at a Florida gas plant rocked by a series of explosions have been accounted for after as many as 15 were initially feared killed, authorities say.

John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said early Tuesday that all the workers at the Blue Rhino propane plant had been accounted for and that no fatalities had been reported after explosions hit the plant late Monday night. Seven people were injured and transported to local hospitals.

Herrell earlier had said 15 workers were unaccounted for after the blasts, but all were later found safe.

The Blue Rhino plant refilled propane tanks typically used for barbecues and other uses.

Video footage on WESH-TV in Orlando showed fires burning through trucks used to transport propane tanks, which were parked at the plant. The fire was sending plumes of smoke into the air nearly two hours after the blast. Emergency crews could also be seen massing nearby.

Herrell said an evacuation zone was initially a one-mile radius but had been reduced to a half-mile radius. No injuries have been reported from residents in the neighborhood.

Herrell said officials believe the fire is contained and won't spread to another part of the plant but they cannot guarantee that.

Bryan Koon, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said he was still getting "preliminary information" from local authorities.

The blasts began about 11 p.m.

Herrell said the plant usually has 53,000 20-pound propane tanks.

According to the Leesburg Daily Commercial, the plant was built in 2004 and employs fewer than 50 people.

 

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