CHICO (CBSDFW.COM) - Families in Wise County were evacuated from their homes early Thursday morning after a large fire at a gas plant west of Chico. The incident started at around 2:00 a.m. at the Targa Gas Plant along County Road 1745, near the intersection with County Road 1810.
A spokesperson for the plant said that the fire was inside of a building with three compressors. There were two workers at the plant when the fire started.
Firefighters from Chico, Bridgeport, Sand Flat and Wise County all responded to the scene. They plan to let the fire burn itself out before getting a closer inspection of the damage. The cause of the fire cannot be determined until crews can conduct a full investigation.
"It is a natural gas facility. Anytime you have a fire, we take that seriously," said Jimmy Oxford with the Targa Gas Plant. "We have activated our emergency shut down and our emergency response plan, and our plan is to let the fire burn out."
Firefighters have stayed back, and a lot of that has to do with resources. "We only have 10,000 gallons worth of water, so there is really not a whole lot we could do with it if it became well involved," explained Wise County Fire Marshal Chuck Beard. "The personnel, at the height, was 25 to 30 personnel on scene, and that's six different fire departments, and that was stretching the county pretty thin."
The plant is located in a very rural area. Not many homes are nearby. However, firefighters were keeping everyone more than a mile away from the plant, and ambulances were standing by as a precaution. Residents who live within that one-mile radius were told to leave their homes as a safety measure. That included about 10 to 15 homes that were evacuated, sending residents to nearby motels.
Fred Moore has lived near the Targa Gas Plant for 34 years. This is the first time that his family was evacuated. "A lot of times when the compressors go down or something like that, they'll bypass gas and it will go to flares, so I didn't know if that's what maybe everyone was seeing. But, you know, when they knock on your door, it raises an eyebrow. We need to get out."
One of the evacuated families said that they did not hear an explosion or see any flames, but were told by emergency workers to leave. Most of the families have since been allowed back to their homes. There have been no reports of injuries at this time.
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