Chemical Plant Explosion Leaves Four Injured, Officials Say Chlorinated Bleach Involved

Four people have reportedly been injured after an explosion at a chemical plant in West Virginia.

The blast prompted a huge fire at the Chemours plant in West Dupont Avenue in Belle, Kanawah County at around 10 p.m.

Residents within a two-mile radius were placed under a "shelter-in-place" order that lasted around four-and-a-half hours on Tuesday night.

Kanawha County Commission President Kent told reporters that officials believe a chlorinated dry bleach and methanol were the chemicals involved in the explosion late Tuesday night.

Drone footage captured the dramatic scene where flames and smoke can be seen billowing from the plant.

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Carper told WSAZ that three people were taken to hospital, two of whom were inside the plant at the time of the incident.

He said another person took himself to seek treatment and the extent of his injuries is unknown at this time.

Carper earlier told the broadcaster the explosion was "probably caused by a barge" in the Kanawha River, which is right next to the plant, but later said the plant itself was the source of the blast.

He added that no chemicals are believed to have gotten into the river.

The commission reported that the fire was still burning just before 2 a.m. The company that owns the plant later said it was under control, according to NBC.

The commission also said first responders needed to let the fire burn out before going in to assess the scene.

Dispatchers said there was "some type of explosion," but the cause is unknown at this time, according to WSAZ.

James Mason, from Kanawha County Emergency Ambulance Authority, told the broadcaster they had their mass causality teams and mass triage teams on standby as a precautionary measure.

The shelter-in-place order, which was lifted at around 2.30a.m., covered areas between Cheylan Bridge to Burning Springs, including Belle, Marmet, Chesapeake and Chelyan.

Route 60 was closed between Campbells Creek to the Chelyan Bridge due to the emergency but it has now been reopened, Metro 911 said.

Chemical Incident at Chemours Plant pic.twitter.com/4wyicpH1gk

— Kanawha County (@kanawhaus) December 9, 2020

In a statement seen by WSAZ, Chemours said: "An incident at one of the tenant companies at the Chemours site in Belle, West Virginia has resulted in a fire. Site responders are working to contain the fire. We have no further details at this time."

In an email to NBC, Chemours said: "There was a fire at one of the tenant companies at our site in Belle, West Virginia. Site responders worked to contain the fires."

Politicians and public figures were quick to send prayers and messages of support.

Sen. Joe Manchin tweeted, "Gayle and I are praying for those at the Chemours plant in Belle & for our brave first responders who are running to the fire tonight.

"I urge all those in and near Belle to stay tuned to local media & follow instructions from local officials."

Gayle and I are praying for those at the Chemours plant in Belle & for our brave first responders who are running to the fire tonight. I urge all those in and near Belle to stay tuned to local media & follow instructions from local officials. https://t.co/KmjD6aSoJH

— Senator Joe Manchin (@Sen_JoeManchin) December 9, 2020

I was just briefed by our @WVEMD. They are coordinating with @KCCDHSEM in response to the incident tonight at the Chemours plant in Belle. I urge everyone in the area to follow the Shelter-In-Place Order currently in effect. Cathy and I are praying for the safety of all involved. https://t.co/7n9DgSYfRI

— Governor Jim Justice (@WVGovernor) December 9, 2020

Gov. Jim Justice tweeted that he has been briefed and that he and his wife were praying for the safety of everyone involved.

He wrote: "I was just briefed by our@WVEMD.They are coordinating with@KCCDHSEM in response to the incident tonight at the Chemours plant in Belle.

"I urge everyone in the area to follow the Shelter-In-Place Order currently in effect. Cathy and I are praying for the safety of all involved."

Newsweek has contacted the commission and Chemours for comment.