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Massive Explosion & Chemical Fire At Garland Plant

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GARLAND (CBSDFW.COM) – An explosion and subsequent massive fire at a chemical plant in Garland sent workers scrambling and businesses nearby into a panic.

The plant is owned by Nexeo Solutions, LLC a Houston-area company that distributes chemicals, plastics, and composites and also offers environmental services.

According to the company, the chemical methanol was being unloaded from a rail-car when the explosion occurred. Methanol is a highly flammable, toxic, wood alcohol.

The fire burned roughly 10,000 gallons of methanol.

Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other health agencies are on location at the plant in the 3100 block of Wood Drive, and are monitoring air quality in the area.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is also responding to the fire, to try and determine why the explosion happened.

An area about the size of a quarter mile around the facility was evacuated because of concerns the fire would spread and possibly cause additional explosions.

Nexeo says all 41 employees at the plant were safe and accounted for following the fire that broke out shortly after 3:30 Friday afternoon.

The Garland Fire Department and Dallas Fire Rescue worked together with their hazardous response teams to control the fire, which was contained to one building.

Officials in Garland decided to take a “defensive posture” letting the fire burn itself out.  Video from Chopper 11, which is housed at the Garland Heliport next to the facility, showed 4 fire tankers treating the perimeter outside of the fire

Firefighters focused much of their attention on watering the tanks next to the building to keep them cool and to prevent them from catching on fire.

screen shot 2012 11 16 at 9 34 30 pm Massive Explosion & Chemical Fire At Garland Plant

A map of the Garland plant from TCEQ

Smoke and flames could be seen for miles for much of the afternoon and early evening.  There were reports of the smoke plume as far away as Southlake and Oak Cliff.  Winds in the Garland area were relatively calm at 5 to 10 miles per hour for the day, and were generally out of the northeast.

Click the photo above to see more photos of the fire.

A worker at Vanguard Electrical Services, a business near Nexeo Solutions, heard the initial explosion:

CBS 11’s Carol Cavazos said that many people to the south of the fire were able to ‘taste’ the fire due to the density and chemicals.  She said after a while the fire started to give off a plastic smell.

CBS 11’s Susy Solis says business owners in the area described how the initial explosion shook their businesses and had a red twinge to it following the initial explosion.  One store owner told Solis his walls and windows began to shake with the force of the explosion.

Emergency crews on the scene said there were no reports of injuries at the plant or in the area.

Investigators are still trying to determine an official cause of the fire.  Garland fire officials credit the fact that Methanol is a simple alcohol in being able to contain the fire.

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