Series of explosions have shaken a Florida-based propane gas plant last night, injuring seven people, three of them critically.
The cause of the massive blast at the Blue Rhino factory in Taveres, Florida, has not been determined yet. The plant, built in 2004 and employing less than 50 people, is said to be producing and refilling propane tanks typically used for barbecues.
According to the estimates, 53,000 propane tanks weighing 9kg each might have been stored inside the factory when the blast occurred.
Local fire-fighters have been working all night to get the blaze caused by the explosion under control.
The company has confirmed all of the employees expected to be inside the factory when the blast took place have been accounted for. Out of the seven people injured, three were transported into hospital in critical condition.
"At this point we have no fatalities being reported," said John Herrell, of the Lake County Sheriff's Office, adding 24 to 26 people were working at the plant on an overnight shift when the explosion occurred.
"It was like a car had run into my house, is what I thought had happened," said Marni Whitehead, a 33-year old resident who witnessed the explosion from her home less than a mile from the plant.
"We knew right away it was the plant, the propane plant," she said. "After that, it was just sort of panic."
1.6km in diameter evacuation zone had initially been set up around the plant but was later reduced to 800m. No injuries had been reported among residents in the area and residents were later allowed to return to their homes.
According to John Herrell, the fire has been contained and is not expected to spread to another part of the plant.