Fire, Explosions at Flooded Texas Chemical Plant

Crosby, TX – A fire broke out at the Arkema chemical plant in Crosby early Thursday, following chemical explosions that sent plumes of black smoke into the air.

Arkema said Harris County officials notified the company about the explosions around 2 a.m. Thursday, adding that residents may hear additional explosions because the product is stored in the plant, which is 25 miles northeast of downtown Houston.

The Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office reported “a series of chemical reactions” and “intermittent smoke” at the facility; a county official said there weren’t “massive explosions,” and instead referred to the reactions as “pops” followed by fire.

The Harris County Sheriff’s Office said that one deputy was hospitalized after inhaling fumes from the plant, while several others sought medical care as a precaution. Some were still being evacuated at a local hospital, the sheriff’s office said, while others had been released.

Nearby residents have been advised to stay inside, turn off their air conditioning and close their windows and doors.

The chemicals are stored in 18-wheeler box vans throughout the plant. Arkema initially reported two of the vans exploded. Wednesday morning, Assistant Chief Bob Royall with the Harris County Fire Marshal clarified that there were multiple explosions in just one of the vans. The van had multiple containers of the chemicals inside.

The company expects additional explosions as the other vans combust, Carr said.

The plant has nine box vans with 36,000 pounds of organic peroxide in each. The organic peroxide is stored in 15-pound cardboard containers, said Harris County Fire Marshall spokeswoman Rachel Moreno.

Three of the vans lost refrigeration by Wednesday morning. Six of them had not, Moreno said.

The Arkema plant was evacuated on Tuesday morning, Royall said.