Oil rig blast on Louisiana lake leaves man missing, at least 7 people hurt

Flames are seen on oil rig on Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana following explosion on October 15, 2017

Erik Hanson / WWL-TV

KENNER, La. -- An oil rig explosion on a lake north of New Orleans, apparently caused when cleaning chemicals ignited, injured seven people and left authorities searching for another, who was missing.

There were "a lot of injuries," many of them serious, with at least seven confirmed and more expected from the Sunday evening explosion on Lake Pontchartrain, Kenner Police Department spokesman Sgt. Brian McGregor told The Times-Picayune . No deaths were immediately reported.

The Coast Guard told CBS New Orleans affiliate WWL-TV the missing person is a man.

"Authorities on the scene report that cleaning chemicals ignited on the surface of the oil rig platform," the City of Kenner Government posted on its Facebook page Sunday evening.

But arson investigators will determine the cause of the explosion after the fire has burned out, reports WWL.

Reports of fire and smoke being seen from Lake Pontchartrain came into the Emergency Operations center around 7:15 p.m., Jefferson Parish spokesman Antwan Harris said in a news release Sunday night.

Clovelly Oil Co. owns the platform, said Taylor Darden, a lawyer for the company listed as its registered agent with the Louisiana Secretary of State.

The platform, located in Jefferson Parish, is used for the transfer of oil, said Chief David Tibbets of the East Bank Consolidated Fire Department. He said the department's current goal is to stop oil flow and, if needed, let it burn off safely.

Authorities acknowledged there was a possibility that the fire meant oil could be leaking into the lake, but officials pointed out to WWL that the platform isn't a drilling rig and is only used to store oil until it can be transported to land.

Officials said Jefferson Parish drinking water will remain safe because it is pulled from the Mississippi River.

Social media users reported hearing a loud noise that even rattled some homes.

Andrew Love, 32, told the newspaper he was inside his house about 10 blocks away when he heard the explosion. "My house actually shook," he said. "At first I thought it was a sonic boom or something, I had no idea what was happening."

Flames could be seen from the area and the air smelled of burning rubber, according to the newspaper.

The Coast Guard will be conducting a water quality evaluation, as will the Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation.