Blasts rock Texas chemical plant as most danger moves east


Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) — Fires and two explosions rocked a Houston-area chemical plant early Thursday in the wake of Harvey and its devastating floods even as floodwaters from days of relentless rain receded there and the threat of major dangers from the storm centered near the Texas-Louisiana line.

Despite a 30- to 40-foot flame and black smoke at the plant, officials insisted the community was not in danger. Fire authorities said that the blasts at the Arkema Inc. plant, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) northeast of Houston, were small and that some deputies suffered irritated eyes from the smoke, but they emphasized that the materials that caught fire shortly after midnight were not toxic. In the largely rural area surrounding the plant, officials said they had gone door to door to explain the situation and call on residents to evacuate, but leaving wasn't mandatory.

The plant, in Crosby, had lost power after the storm, leaving it without refrigeration for chemicals that become volatile as temperatures rise. Arkema had shut down the plant before Harvey made landfall.

Several hours after Thursday's explosions, as the sun rose, an AP photographer at a roadblock about 2 miles (3 kilometers) from the scene could see no sign of a blaze in the direction of the chemical plant.

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