Authorities in Belle, West Virginia have ordered residents to shelter in place following a powerful explosion and blaze at a local chemical plant. Few details have so far emerged about the blast.
“We’ve had at least one very serious explosion and a working fire at the plant,” Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper said on Tuesday night, after the blast was reported around 10pm local time.
We believe it was probably caused by a barge in the river area of the plant.
WATCH: Aerial footage shows a fire at the Chemours plant in Belle following an explosion. Officials say the situation has stabilized since the video was taken. (Video courtesy of Aaron Spencer) pic.twitter.com/AcSOgWXGBy
— Eyewitness News (@wchs8fox11) December 9, 2020
While it remains unclear whether any volatile chemicals were involved in the explosion, Carper relayed reports that the smell of chlorine was present around the site, though said he could not confirm them.
The shelter order applies only to a “two-mile radius” surrounding Belle’s Chemours chemical plant, according to a Kanawha County media release. That includes all of Belle, as well as other nearby towns, such as Marmet, Chesapeake and Chelyan, local media reported.
I was just briefed by our @WVEMD. They are coordinating with @KCCDHSEM in response to the incident tonight at the Chemours plant in Belle. I urge everyone in the area to follow the Shelter-In-Place Order currently in effect. Cathy and I are praying for the safety of all involved. https://t.co/7n9DgSYfRI
— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) December 9, 2020
The Chemours Company, a spin-off of chemical giant DuPont, issued a statement soon after the blast, saying that an unspecified “incident” at the plant “resulted in a fire” and that “site responders” were working to contain the blaze, offering no other details. The statement made no mention of an explosion.
The cause of the blast has not been determined, and it is not yet known whether there were any injuries at the plant, which is located directly adjacent to the Kanawha River.
Around 11:30 local time, a county official told reporters the situation at the plant “is now stabilized,” adding that emergency workers were “checking for residuals” and that the shelter order would hopefully be lifted soon.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!