A series of explosions rocked an oil field chemical supply company north of Houston Friday, setting off a three-alarm fire that sent a broad, dense column of thick, black smoke towering into the air.
There were no injuries in the blast and blaze that erupted about 4:30 p.m., said Conroe Fire Marshal Mike Legoudes.
Firefighters took about two hours to bring the fire under control at the DrillChem plant on the eastern fringe of Conroe, about 40 miles north of Houston.
“The facility was empty at the time of the fire and we are thankful that no injuries have been reported,” said DrillChem Chief Executive Brandon Hayes. “We are working closely with local authorities to determine the cause of the fire and assess the extent of the damage.”
Jennifer Nichols-Contella, spokeswoman for the Montgomery County Hospital District, said ambulances went to the scene as a precaution.
Units from several fire departments and a hazardous-materials team were at the scene. Residents up to two miles from the fire site received a shelter in place order. By nightfall, the alert reduced to a half-mile radius.
Montgomery County Fire Marshal Jimmy Williams said authorities let the fire burn down in case hazardous chemicals or materials were a part of the blaze.
“Sometimes the best plan of attack may be not any attack at all,” Williams said. “They don’t want to do anything to endanger firefighters.”
The cause of the explosions was unclear and an investigation has begun, Legoudes said. Officials set up air monitors to check for toxic air pollutants, and the Environmental Protection Agency is aware of the situation, he said.
DrillChem is an oil industry supply company that creates sealants, shale inhibitors and lubricants, according to the company’s website.