A fire engulfed a chemical plant in Oklahoma early Thursday, heating pressurized containers and causing several explosions, authorities said.
The Danlin plant in Thomas, Okla., caught fire at 10 p.m. local time (11 p.m. ET) Wednesday, according to fire officials.
Contrary to previous statements by the Thomas Fire Department, emergency management director for Custer County Mike Galloway said officials now believe the explosions were caused by the fire rather than the other way around.
"The complex consists of a warehouse, a lab and an office, and the fire is what caused the explosions because pressurized containers within the facility were heated up," Galloway said.
Buck Jones, chief of the Thomas Police Department, said no employees were working at the site at the time but about a dozen residents were evacuated from the area.
No injuries were immediately reported.
According to Galloway, the fire had largely burned itself out, save for a few small areas, by 8 a.m. (9 a.m. ET) Thursday.
"It will be a few hours yet before it all cools down and we can do a walk-through," he said.
There was no risk to the public from the burning chemicals, which were mostly methanol. "Methanol burns like alcohol so once it's in flame it burns right off," Galloway said.
The plant was a 13-acre facility that employed 75 people in Thomas, which has a population of around 1,100.
About 30 personnel were at the scene from Thomas Fire Department, Custer City Fire Department, Custer City Police Department, and Custer County Sheriff’s Office, the police chief said.
Emergency personnel were waiting for the fire to burn out on its own accord instead of entering the building.
First published September 19 2013, 6:46 AM