SHEPHERD, Texas (KIAH) — Multiple explosions are being reported in Shepherd, Texas that started with one at a chemical plant on FM 1127 Wednesday morning. The Montgomery County Police Reporter said the plant had a major explosion around 8:30 a.m..
Authorities have said that 19 employees were at the plant at the time of the explosion, with one employee receiving minor burns and was taken to a local hospital.
The plant is identified as Sound Resource Solutions, located at 731 FM 1127. It has been operational since 2014 and reported to have 40 employees.
The plant manufactured diesel and turpentine at the time of the explosion, Geoff Hartfield, the CEO of Sound Resource Solutions, said. He also said he was grateful that all of his employees are safe.
“I’m not worried about the business. All my people went home. That’s what I care about,” Harfield said.
The San Jacinto County Office of Emergency Management is asking everyone within a one-mile radius of the plant to shelter in place and turn off all HVAC systems in nearby homes and businesses immediately.
Smoke is drifting northward as winds continue to blow from the south at five to 15 miles per hour throughout the day. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office shared on Facebook that the plume could be heading toward the Livingston area.
San Jacinto County Sheriff Greg Capers said that officials began receiving calls shortly after 8 a.m. about an explosion at the company’s facility.
Officials did not immediately provide any information on a possible cause of the explosion, or how they planned to put it out. They did say later in the day that the fire was contained.
As first responders (fire, EMS, law enforcement) traveled there from every direction, there were additional explosions.
A section of Highway 59 has been closed in both directions from FM 1988 to US 190 in Livingston. TxDOT is asking to avoid the area and find alternative routes. Traffic is backed up all the way into Montgomery County due to the road closure.
According to the San Jacinto County Office of Emergency Management, all children and employees of Wildwood Academy, a nearby private school for children ages 5 to 12, have been evacuated safely to the Shepherd ISD administration building. All 31 students were evacuated and were reunited with their parents, authorities said.
As for Shepherd ISD, the district says that all their students are safe and do not have to shelter in place due to the wind direction. Parents can come to their school to pick up their child.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.