Plant explosions of any kind are terrifying, but when you’re dealing with an explosion at a gas plant, the stakes are even higher. KBTX is on the scene in Bellville, Texas where the Western International Gas plant was rocked by multiple explosions early this morning. Bellville is about 100 miles southeast of Austin, about 150 miles south of Waco, and only about 65 miles northwest of Houston.
Residents reported a series of explosions and blasts that reminded them of a war zone, specifically grenades. The series of explosions sparked multiple fires and now, fire departments around the Austin County area are sending teams to help the local Bellville team put out the blazes.
FOX 10 Phoenix shared a live video from this morning of the blaze, and you can see the roof is almost totally blown off in the center of the building.
Officials reported that there are no injures at the time, but have increased the evacuation radius to five miles around the plant. The KBTX reporter on the scene confirmed that more explosions were heard around 10 a.m. local time, and bystanders speculated that underground tanks were continuing to explode.
The Bellville Police and the Austin County Sheriff have closed Highway 159 E because currently, it’s impassable due to the smoke and fire danger. Travelers are encouraged to use FM 1456 as an alternate route through Buckhorn and Hempstead. There is no estimated time that the fire will be out.
KBTX spoke to Conrad Ignasiak, one evacuee who was only 1,000 feet from the plant when the first blast shook the ground.
“It got really foggy and I couldn’t really see a whole lot,” he said. “After the first explosion, there wasn’t any fire but then after about 30 minutes, more explosions happened and those were explosions with fire.”
KBTX also spoke to evacuee Ben Boyer, who was woken by the blasts. “I’ve had safety training in college so I know that sound and I know how powerful those explosions can be. As soon as that second explosion happened, I knew what was going on and so I called my employees and told them to evacuate.
So far, officials have not determined the cause of the gas plant explosion. We’ll continue to update this story with more information. Send your well wishes, Texans! This massive explosion series will no doubt be a huge project to clean up.