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Evacuations Follow Explosions and Fire at Western International Gas Plant in Bellville, Texas


Mandatory evacuations were ordered for some residents of Bellville, Texas, after a series of explosions sparked a massive fire at the Western International Gas plant early this morning.

No Injuries Reported in Western International Gas Plant Explosion

The first explosion shook the facility shortly after 6:00 a.m.

Several additional blasts were reported over the next hour.

“It got really foggy and you couldn’t really see a whole lot,” one nearby resident told KBTX-TV. “After the first explosion there wasn’t any fire but then after about 30 minutes, more explosions happened and those were explosions with fire.”

Fortunately, no one was working at the plant at the time of the explosion and no injuries have been reported.

Fears of Larger Explosion Force Austin County to Expand Evacuation Zone

The Western International Gas plant is located on West State Highway 159, about 60 miles northeast of Houston.

According to its website, the company is a wholesale supplier of acetylene gas used for welding and cutting applications.

During a news interview earlier today, Austin County Sheriff Jack Brande said the Bellville plant was “highly volatile — highly dangerous”.

Initially, a mandatory evacuation order was issued for those living within 1 mile of the plant. The evacuation was later expanded to a 5 mile zone, as fears grew that the resulting fire could trigger a larger explosion.

“Mid-morning, the fire seemed to die down,” Brandes said. “They felt like they had it contained. It was in a cool down mode. They had water tanks set up on 159, and hoses going to the scene where the fire was actually located, and they felt really good about it. Then, it went south of them.”

Fire at Western International Gas Plant Will Be Allowed to Burn Itself Out

Crews managed to contain the fire to a single building – and away from highly-flammable hydrogen tanks stored at the facility – by early afternoon.

Firefighters were pulled back but continued to douse the site with water. The blaze will be allowed to extinguish itself.

Austin County officials were able to reduce the evacuation zone to a 1-mile radius by 3:00 p.m.

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