Forklift incident is blamed for blast that sent thick plume of toxic black smoke into sky as shelter-in-place is ordered for residents in one mile radius

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  • The Sound Resource Solutions complex in Shepherd, Texas exploded on Wednesday
  • Shelters have been granted to residents from Goodrich to Leggett
  • Sound Resource Solutions housed turpentine and various types of acid

An incident involving a forklift caused a chemical plant in Texas to explode in a massive fireball, sending a giant cloud of black smoke into the sky and prompting mass evacuations.

The shelter-in-place order issued for residents within a mile radius of the Sound Resource Solutions complex has since been lifted after it went up in flames at 8:17 a.m. Wednesday.

An employee was injured and taken to Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center with first-degree burns to the face, along with second- and third-degree burns to his arms, FOX 26 reported.

The injured worker was involved in a forklift incident that authorities believe caused the factory explosion, but the investigation is ongoing

Authorities also said they have monitored air quality and have not detected any chemicals in the air so far.

The Sound Resource Solutions factory in Shepherd, about 60 miles from Houston, exploded at 8:17 a.m. Wednesday
Firefighters began dousing the flames (pictured) at the Sound Resource Solutions factory with foam chemicals
Smoke from the explosion engulfed the sky and floated above the trees

“We believe the worst is over,” Jeff Hartfield, owner of Sound Resource Solutions, said at a news conference.

Sound Resource Solutions is a local recycling facility that also houses many chemicals in Shepard, about 60 miles from Houston.

According to the company’s website, they focus on ‘blending, repackaging, distribution and logistics’ in a sustainable way.

The Polk County Office of Emergency Management said the plant contained turpentine, phosphoric acid, xylene, diesel fuel and sulfuric acid when it exploded.

They advised residents near U.S. Highway 59 from Goodrich to Leggett to take shelter. The highway has since been closed due to the explosion.

They have also advised residents to immediately turn off their HVAC systems in businesses and homes.

The sheriff’s office is asking the public to avoid the area and watch for emergency vehicles.

The huge plume of black smoke could be seen in the clouds after a chemical factory with 19 workers inside exploded
Polk County Emergency Management has posted a map of the US Highway 59 region from Goodrich to Leggett. All residents of that area must be given shelter immediately
Jeff Hartfield (pictured), the owner of Sound Resource Solutions, said the injured worker was involved in a forklift accident Wednesday morning
Sound Resource Solutions contained turpentine, phosphoric acid, xylene, diesel fuel and sulfuric acid when it exploded

Emergency responders reported that the plume of smoke was heading towards Livingston.

The effects of the chemicals in the air are unknown at this time, but it is suspected that the wind carries the odor and smoke from the fire into the air.

About 19 employees of the plant escaped without injury.

The company’s president told a press conference on the spot that they produce hazardous substances, but that many of them are ‘under your sink’.

Wildwood Private School had to be evacuated and students sent through a local pasture to a nearby administration building. There were 31 students at the school at the time.

First responders have arrived at the scene of the chemical plant explosion, including police, firefighters and the Hazmat team
The dark smoke has taken over the bright blue sky from the chemical explosion (photo)

First responders have not yet poured water on the fire because it is not known exactly which chemicals may have been involved in the explosion. They plan to start fighting the fire soon.

While sheltering in place during a radiation emergency, all windows and doors should be closed and anyone inside should move to the basement or center of the building, the CDC said.

If you are stuck in a car during a shelter, you should look for the nearest building. Cars do not provide sufficient protection against radioactive material.

The plant produced hazardous materials and applied approximately 30 truckloads of products per day.

Sound Resource Solutions opened in 2014 and Hartfield, the company’s owner, said they plan to rebuild.

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