San Jacinto County residents able to reach homes after plant fire caused hourslong road closure

Pooja Lodhia Image
Thursday, November 9, 2023
San Jacinto County residents working to reunite with family after fire
Hours after a chemical plant fire closed off multiple roads, they have reopened and residents are working to reunite with loved ones.

SAN JACINTO COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) -- As night fell on Wednesday in San Jacinto County, many residents were finally able to reach their homes in the evening hours after a plant fire closed off their only access.

But before roadways reopened, some residents expressed concerns as their families found themselves stuck.

"I'm devastated. I don't know what's going on, but I have elderly parents at the top of the road," Yolanda Aqunette explained. "So, I need to get up there and make sure they are OK."

"Terror. I'm not used to much going on out there," Jessica Gibbs, who Eyewitness News met while she was trying to pick up her husband, said. "Honestly, I'm trying to get as far away from that as possible."

"I'm frantic because I can't go see my mom or (anything)," neighbor Trey Wallace said.

With so many roadblocks in place, there was no way in or out of several neighborhoods near the plant fire.

Thankfully, Tyler Koleck also saw the thick smoke and jumped off his tractor to open a private road through Trinity River Ranch.

"I know if that's what's blowing up, nobody can get out, so we kind of just communicated a little bit," Koleck said. "Everyone dropped everything and just started helping get from point A to point B because there's no way to get to them. It's all shut down."

He first escorted out 31 students from Wildwood Private School, but the line of cars kept growing. A traffic jam of sorts, as cows watched in confusion.

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

"We don't have any power, and my wife is handicapped, and I came out of there just a minute ago to see what's going on myself," Ernest Pace, who said he heard a blast before the fire started, said. "I can't even get to the store without going way out of the way."

"I'm just trying to keep my family safe and don't know how long power is going to be out," Gibbs said. "Kind of concerned and doing the best I can to get somewhere else."

"Our gates are open for as long as they need to be and as long as everyone makes it out with whatever they need," Kolek said.

In a 7:40 p.m. update, San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said FM 1127 was opened for residents only, allowing them back to their homes.

The blaze had also closed off portions of US-59, but all lanes have since been reopened as well.

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