A “major industrial accident” injured at least four people early Thursday at an ExxonMobil plant in the Houston-area city of Baytown, sheriff’s officials said.
Initial reports indicated an explosion happened inside the plant, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said in a tweet, and residents in the area reported a loud explosion.
A fire happened at the facility — an oil refinery — around 2 a.m. ET, according to ExxonMobil, which did not immediately confirm an explosion or say what led to the fire.
Four people were injured, the sheriff’s office said, three of whom were taken for treatment by helicopter and one by ambulance.
The fire happened in a unit that produces gasoline, and the plant’s emergency workers still were working to extinguish the fire as of 5 a.m., ExxonMobil refinery manager Rohan Davis told reporters early Thursday.
The conditions of the four injured people were stable, said Davis, who said he could not comment on the extent of their injuries.
The cause of the fire wasn’t immediately known and will be investigated, Davis said.
The company is coordinating with authorities and is monitoring air quality with regulators, Davis said.
“All of those results so far have shown no impact to the community from an air quality perspective,” Davis said.
The Baytown refinery began operations in 1920 and can process up to 584,000 barrels of crude oil per day, according to the ExxonMobil corporate site.
ExxonMobil operates the refinery and several other facilities, including a chemical plant and a technology center, on about 3,400 acres in and around Baytown. It employs about 7,000 people in the Baytown area, the company says.
The refinery in Baytown is roughly a 25-mile drive east of downtown Houston.
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