CROSBY, Texas -- The Arkema plant in Crosby, Texas, has.
A plume of black smoke came from the plant on Friday during a very intense fire. At least two of eight remaining tractor trailers containing organic peroxide have exploded, CBS News correspondent Kris Van Cleave reports.
When the refrigeration units quit during Harvey's extensive flooding, the Arkema chemical plant said it would explode at any moment.
Fire crews said they have to let the blaze burn itself out because it's. The smoke emitted is an irritant that can create breathing issues. At least 18 first responders were taken to the hospital with a variety of issues, Van Cleave reports.
As the smoke billowed out, police put on protective gear including gas masks.
On Friday, some residents living near the Arkema chemical plant tried to get around a mandatory evacuation order to get back home but were met by road blocks.
Harvey struck Southeast Texas last week, slamming into the coast as a Category 4 hurricane, then weakening to a tropical storm that dumped record amounts of rain on the state, in particular the Houston area. The storm was downgraded to a tropical depression late Wednesday.
The company shut down the Crosby site before Harvey made landfall last week, but a crew of 11 had stayed behind. That group was removed and residents living within a 1.5-mile radius were told to evacuate Tuesday after the plant lost power
On Thursday, officials said at a news conference that the Harris County Emergency Operations Center received reports of two explosions and black smoke coming from the plant at about 2 a.m.
Assistant Harris County Fire Chief Bob Royall described the explosions as "container ruptures." He said different grades of organic peroxides in a semi-trailer caught fire not long after midnight. The fire emitted a 30- to 40-foot flames and black smoke. Royall says officials expect similar reactions in the eight remaining trailers.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says about 1,300 households with 3,800 people live in a 3-mile radius around Arkema, CBS affiliate KHOU-TV reported.
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