Monday October 5th, 2015 12:03AM
9:45PM ( 2 hours ago ) News Alert

Massive explosion rocks central Fla. gas plant

By The Associated Press
TAVARES, Fla. (AP) -- A series of explosions rocked a central Florida propane gas plant and sent "boom after boom after boom" through the neighborhood around it. Several people were injured, with at least three critically injured.

All the workers at the plant were accounted for early Tuesday after officials initially could not account for more than a dozen employees.

John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office said there were no fatalities despite massive blasts that ripped through the Blue Rhino propane plant late Monday night.

"Management is comfortable saying all of those they knew were there tonight have been accounted for," he said.

One person injured in the explosion was listed in critical condition at University of Florida Health Shands Hospital. Two others were listed in critical condition at Orlando Regional Medical Center and a spokeswoman there said a third patient was en route, also listed as critical.

Herrell said some others drove themselves to area hospitals.

The Blue Rhino plant, which is northwest of Orlando, refilled propane tanks typically used for barbecues and other uses.

Herrell said a crew of 24 to 26 people was working at the plant on an overnight shift when the explosions occurred around 11 p.m.

Video footage on WESH-TV in Orlando showed fires burning through trucks used to transport propane tanks, which were parked at the plant. The fire was sending plumes of smoke into the air hours after the blast. Emergency crews could also be seen massing nearby.

Herrell said an evacuation zone was initially a one-mile radius but had been reduced to a half-mile radius. No injuries have been reported from residents in the neighborhood and residents were later allowed to return to their homes.

Marni Whitehead, 33, who lives less than a mile from the plant, said she was in bed ready to go to sleep when she heard a loud boom.

"It was like a car had run into my house, is what I thought had happened," she said.

She ran outside and saw other neighbors outside and then they saw the explosions.

"We knew right away it was the plant, the propane plant," Whitehead said. "After that, it was just sort of panic."

Whitehead likened the explosions to Fourth of July fireworks. "And it was just boom after boom after boom," she said.

Herrell said officials believe the fire was contained and wouldn't spread to another part of the plant but they could not guarantee that.

Herrell said the plant usually has 53,000 20-pound propane tanks.

According to the Leesburg Daily Commercial, the plant was built in 2004 and employs fewer than 50 people.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
UN is next stop for Obama after success with Iran, pope; top issues are IS, Syria, Russia
NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh from successes on Iran and with the pope, President Barack Obama still carried heavy burdens into critical meetings this week at the U.N. General Assembly.They include the threat...
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
Stunning Congress, House Speaker Boehner announces plans to resign; tea party declares victory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging Congress into deeper turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation Friday, shutting down a tea party drive to depose the nation's highest-ranking Re...
6:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Tornado heavily damages 10 homes but causes no injuries on island in South Carolina
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A tornado quickly blew through a neighborhood on the South Carolina coast early Friday and blew out windows, knocked down trees and heavily damaged ten homes.The tornado touc...
5:08PM ( 1 week ago )
Caterpillar says it may cut more than 10,000 jobs by 2018, lowers 2015 revenue expectation
Caterpillar is planning another round of job cuts that could exceed 10,000 people through 2018, as the construction and mining equipment maker adjusts to downturns in key markets.That could amount to...
10:06AM ( 1 week ago )
Escaped tarantula grounds Atlanta-bound flight in Baltimore
An eight-legged creature that escaped in the cargo hold of a passenger flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International grounded the plane and sent passengers onto another flight.
By The Associated Press
9:06AM ( 1 week ago )