Explosion leads to fire at AkzoNobel plant in La Porte

March 4, 2013 3:45:27 PM PST
An explosion rocked a chemical company in La Porte, creating a massive fireball and smoke that could be seen for miles around.

The fire broke out at the AkzoNobel plant in La Porte at about 1pm Monday. Emergency workers responded quickly to the thick black smoke and bright orange flames that billowed out of the AkzoNobel plant. The 80 to 100 employees and contractors were quickly evacuated, but one didn't escape without injury.

Plant officials confirm one contractor was hurt and transported to a local hospital. It's exactly the kind of scenario that's on the minds of all plant workers in the area.

"You're worried about the welfare of the people who actually have family at home and have to come and do it every day," said nearby plant worker Mike DeBaca. "You just hope these companies are here for their employees."

The fire was brought under control in about 45 minutes. AkzoNobel officials confirmed to Eyewitness News it was a chemical used to manufacture plastics.

"We did have a fire in our magnesium alkals unit and we responded with our emergency response team, our internal team, and now they have the fire under control," said AkzoNobel spokesperson Julie Sullivan.

The company said the product burning was magnesium oxide, and not toxic. There were no shelter-in-place warnings issued, and workers returned to the job just a few hours later, though the risk is never far from their minds.

"The money's good, it's day to day," DeBaca said. "You just deal with it as it comes."

Plant officials say it's too early to tell what caused the fire. That remains under investigation.

If you caught photos or video of this event, you can upload them at iWitness.abc13.com or email them to news@abc13.com.
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