Four injured in ExxonMobil plant fire in Texas
Emergency medical workers were at the scene of a “major industrial accident” at an Exxon Mobil plant in Texas where at least four people were injured on Thursday morning, 23 December 2021. A fire broke out around 01h00am local time at a refinery in Baytown, about 25 miles east of Houston, Exxon Mobil said in a statement. “At this time, emergency vehicles and smoke may be noticeable to the community,” the company said, adding that it was working closely with local officials to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Four people were injured, the company said. Three were taken by Life Flight, an air ambulance service and one by ambulance, Sheriff Ed Gonzalez of Harris County said.
The fire was extinguished shortly after 09h00am local time, said Rachel Neutzler, a spokeswoman for the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office. “We’re still waiting to get in and complete the scene examination” to determine the origin of the fire and the cause, she said.
The four people injured were in stable condition, Neutzler said. Three had minor flash burn injuries and the fourth had a broken leg, she said.
The sheriff’s office described the fire as a “major industrial accident” in a statement and asked the public to “avoid the area.”
“Our fire teams are working to extinguish the fire,” Julie King, a spokeswoman for Exxon Mobil, said in a statement. “We are conducting personnel accounting.” As a precaution, Exxon Mobil had begun monitoring the air quality at the site and fence line, she said. “We deeply regret any disruption or inconvenience that this incident may have caused the community,” King said.
Right after the episode, local residents reported hearing a “boom” that shook their windows and homes.
In the summer of 2019, dozens of employees and contractors were treated after an explosion and fire at the Baytown plant, according to CNN. The fire occurred in the polypropylene recovery unit, where plastic is purified for production. A shelter-in-place order was issued for several hours.
The Exxon Mobil complex in Baytown was founded in 1919 and sits on approximately 3 400 acres along the Houston Ship Channel. It is the second-largest refinery in the United States with nearly 2 200 employees and produces nearly 600 000 barrels of crude oil a day.
Sources: Associated Press, The New York Times, CNN