After a fire and explosions at a chemical plant in the town of Thomas, OK, officials forced residents to evacuate their homes last Wednesday.
As of Thursday night three homes remained evacuated across the street from the Danlin Chemical plant, but others were able to return home. On Friday, hazmat crews continued to check the air surrounding the plant to see if it’s clear of chemicals. If it is, emergency crews were going to go in and continue the investigation and begin cleaning up.
The explosion occurred around 10 p.m. All of the 75 employees had gone home hours before. Danlin produces chemicals for the oil and gas industry. Nearly all of those chemicals were flammable.
“Once the container explodes all of the flammables ignite immediately and that’s when you get that big fireball,” said Custer County Emergency Manager Mike Galloway.
As soon as they got there, emergency crews evacuated residents within a four mile radius. Because the town of Thomas doesn’t have equipment to handle volatile chemicals, firefighters had no choice but to stand back and let it burn.
Thomas’s fire chief said, “If we put water on it the chemicals are going to spread. So we just have to let it burn.”
By Thursday evening the fire was out. All that remained was a foot and a half of smoldering ash and the remains of the plant.
“The fire Marshall is going to do their investigation and see if we can find the cause of this fire,” said Galloway.
Galloway says investigators will look into every possible cause including arson.
In preparation for possible rain, crews did set up embankments around the plant so any remaining chemicals don’t spread.