Home Emergency Management News EDM Wednesday Briefing: Texas Chemical Plant's Explosion Felt for Miles
EDM Wednesday Briefing: Texas Chemical Plant's Explosion Felt for Miles

EDM Wednesday Briefing: Texas Chemical Plant's Explosion Felt for Miles

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Emergency and disaster management briefing for November 27, 2019: A fiery explosion injures three at a chemical plant in rural Texas; the Cave Fire burn scar prompts evacuation alerts and warnings ahead of heavy rainfall forecast in the Santa Barbara area; a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Albania early Tuesday and rescuers are frantically combing through debris for survivors; heavy snow in Colorado closed interstates and stranded over 1,000 passengers at the airport in Denver; a phosphorous leak and fire produced a smoke plume that prompted shelter-in-place orders for some Charleston residents; a power outage at the Oakland International Airport disrupted flights, created massive security lines, and left passengers in the dark; a multi-vehicle crash on I-90 near Spokane injured six and closed the highway for hours; and a bomb cyclone and a winter storm are snarling travel plans for many people across the nation ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.

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1) An explosion early Wednesday morning at a chemical plant in rural Jefferson County, Texas, injured three workers and shook the ground for miles. The fiery explosion took place around 1:00 a.m. at the TPC chemical plant in Port Neches near the Louisiana border, and fire spread swiftly throughout the plant. The explosion also blew out windows and doors of homes and businesses in the area, and prompted a mandatory evacuation order for all residents within a half-mile radius of the plant.

2) Firefighters battling the Cave Fire, a wildfire that began in the Santa Ynez Mountains northwest of Santa Barbara late Monday, say the fire is now 10 percent contained. The blaze, which scorched more than 4,300 acres and threatened 2,000 homes, also prompted evacuation orders for nearly 5,200 residents in the area. New evacuation alerts and warnings for potentially deadly debris flows for areas below the wildfire's burn scar were issued Tuesday evening as heavy rainfall was anticipated with an approaching storm.

3) A magnitude 6.4 earthquake rocked Albania early Tuesday morning, and rescuers began frantically combing through debris to find survivors. More than 40 survivors and at least 22 bodies have been pulled from the rubble as teams of rescuers worked through the night Tuesday to Wednesday. Powerful aftershocks continued to rock the area, frightening area residents and prompting them to seek shelter in tents at the local football stadium.

4) Heavy snow slammed the Denver, Colorado, area Monday night into Tuesday, prompting the cancellation of hundreds of flights and stranding holiday passengers at the airport. Seven inches of snow blanketed the airport by early Tuesday, severely reducing visibility and prompting the flight cancellations. The storm also closed long portions of Interstates 70 and 76 in Colorado as heavy snow made the roads impassable.

5) A phosphorous leak at a chemical plant in Charleston, South Carolina, prompted a shelter-in-place order for residents in the area early Wednesday morning. The leak at the Lanxess chemical plant sparked a fire, which created a large plume of smoke. When the wind shifted the smoke plume towards homes, authorities issued the warning. No employees were injured in the incident, but the plant will remain closed until the cause of the leak is determined.

6) A power outage disrupted flights at Oakland International Airport in California on Tuesday evening, snarling air traffic and delaying holiday travelers ahead of Thanksgiving. The airport is unsure what caused the outage, which affected both the terminal and flight operations. The outage occurred at around 6:30 p.m., with sporadic outages still occurring past 8:15 p.m. The power failure created extremely long lines at security checkpoints, frustrating passengers.

7) Interstate 90 near Spokane, Washington, was shut down Tuesday for several hours after more than 60 vehicles were involved in a collision on the interstate. The multi-vehicle crash occurred as an isolated snowstorm moved through the area, quickly creating icy road conditions. Six people were wounded in the crash, although none of the injuries were life-threatening. Motorists stranded by the crash were moved by buses to a nearby warming center.

8) Two major storms are wreaking havoc across a large portion of the country ahead of Thanksgiving, which may impact Americans attempting to travel for the holiday. Forecasters at the National Weather Service (NWS) noted that a bomb cyclone was headed for Northern California and the tip of Oregon, potentially bringing 35-foot waves and two feet of snow to the mountains. Blizzard and wintry weather warnings were posted for the Great Lakes region on Wednesday. High winds and snow are forecast for Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin before the storm heads east towards New England on Thursday.

 

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.