Trucker among several who escaped massive explosion at San Jacinto County chemical plant

Daniela Hurtado Image
Thursday, November 9, 2023
Trucker among several who escaped massive explosion at Shepherd plant
A truck driver said he escaped Sound Resource Solutions after seeing the chemical plant catch on fire on FM 1127 in Shepherd, Texas.

SHEPHERD, Texas (KTRK) -- Massive black clouds lifted over the fire at Sound Resource Solutions on FM 1127 in San Jacinto County on Wednesday morning following an explosion.

"I was scared. I just started running, left my truck running, (and) left the doors open. I just started running," truck driver Francisco Arreola said.

It's an eyewitness account you'll see only on AB13.

Arreola was picking up a load at the Sound Resource Solution facility when it caught on fire Wednesday morning. He told Eyewitness News that he heard the explosion and saw everyone on site running.

RELATED: Crews working to put out hotspots in Shepherd, TX plant fire that injured worker using forklift

"I just saw the tanker move forward, and then I just saw a fireball and smoke. The guy from the back of the tanker yelled, 'Run!'" Arreola recalled. "You could feel the heat from the explosions, you know, while you're running, you get the heat from the fireballs."

Arreola said he was told the semi was intact and made it through the fire. After 9 p.m., he was able to see his truck but said it hadn't been released to him because of the ongoing investigation.

Authorities said in a news conference that based on preliminary information in their investigation, they believe there was an employee on a forklift who noticed chemicals were leaking from a container. County leaders said the man lifted the container and then noticed the fire and an ignition.

Arreola said he didn't see the forklift when he was on site, but he saw a tanker and the fire and heard the explosion.

READ MORE: Diesel fuel, among several flammable liquids housed at chemical plant on fire in Shepherd, Texas

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality told ABC13 that rapid assessment vans are at the scene of the fire, monitoring for chemicals and isolating them. The agency said no chemicals have been found in the air out of the immediate site of the fire so far.

TCEQ told ABC13 the next steps are to devise a plan to clean up the two retention ponds that took on most of the runoff from the fire.

Officials said it could take days.

In San Jacinto County, there's a sense of gratitude that no one died in the explosions.

"Material stuff can get replaced, lives we can't," Arreola said.

As for neighbors, roads in the area are back open, and the sheriff confirms everyone has been allowed back home after this scare.

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READ MORE: What we know about plant at center of large fire in Shepherd, Texas