Charlie Riedel  /  AP
Fire burns at the Chemcentral Corp. chemical distribution facility in Kansas City, Mo., on Wednesday.
updated 2/8/2007 4:04:55 PM ET 2007-02-08T21:04:55

A small explosion slowed firefighters Thursday as they tried to mop up a fire that devastated a chemical distribution plant a day earlier.

The fire was still smoldering, and there was a threat of more small explosions, said Kansas City deputy fire chief Frank Tittone. Evacuation orders remained Thursday for people within a one-mile radius of the site.

On Wednesday, two workers at the Chemcentral Corp. plant were injured when a number of 55-gallon drums ignited, sending fireballs into air.

Firefighters were finally able to approach the site Wednesday night and use flame-suppressing foam, and the last of the hot spots were being doused Thursday morning when another explosion came from inside the plant, Battalion Chief Joe Vitale said.

Some workers at businesses in the evacuation area who had returned Thursday left again after the new explosion.

Fire Chief Richard Dyer said firefighters hope to have the blaze extinguished sometime Thursday.

Dan Brennan, an attorney for Bedford Park, Ill.-based Chemcentral, said it was not immediately clear what caused the explosions. The threat of additional explosions have kept investigators from examining the site and determining the cause of the initial explosions.

Despite the smoke plume’s ominous appearance, officials said tests had found no threat to human health. Residents were cautioned against touching any debris or what appeared to be a sticky substance deposited by the cloud as it streamed southwestward, but Dyer said the material was not highly toxic.

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