A second explosion Wednesday at an East Texas chemical plant prompted officials to issue evacuation orders for three small cities and a portion of another as flames and smoke surged into the sky.
An afternoon blast at the TPC Group plant in Port Neches, about 80 miles east of Houston, followed a powerful burst at 1 a.m. that sent three workers to hospitals, injured some residents and caused property damage to homes and businesses.
After the second explosion, Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick, the top county official, ordered a mandatory evacuation around a 4-mile radius that includes Port Neches and neighboring Groves, Nederland and part of Port Arthur.
TPC officials said two employees and a contractor were treated at hospitals after the initial blast and later released. The company said all employees are accounted for.
Branick told Beaumont TV station KFDM that one worker sustained burns and the others had a broken wrist and a broken leg, respectively.
Jefferson County Emergency Management coordinator Mike White told the Beaumont Enterprise that five residents were being treated for minor injuries, mostly related to shattered glass.
"There's extensive damage throughout the city," Police Chief Paul Lemoine said.
Troy Monk, director of health safety and security with TPC Group, said at a news conference that it’s unclear how long it will take to extinguish the fire that erupted after the morning explosion.