This photo provided by Ryan Meador shows an explosion at The Williams Companies Inc. plant in the Ascension Parish town of Geismar La., Thursday, June 13, 2013.
(AP) -- Ambulances and helicopters took at least 30 people from a
burning chemical plant after an explosion Thursday in Louisiana,
Early tests did not indicate
dangerous levels of any chemicals around the plant in Geismar, about 20
miles southeast of Baton Rouge, but area residents were told to remain
indoors with doors and windows closed, said Jean Kelly, spokeswoman for
the state Department of Environmental Quality.
said helicopters took three or four people Thursday from the plant
owned by The Williams Companies Inc., and ground ambulances took 30.
Kelly did not have other details about injuries.
victims were taken to Baton Rouge General Medical Center and more were
expected, the hospital said in a news release on its website.
scrambled over gates and ran from the plant when they heard the
explosion, which shook the ground and was followed by a "ball of fire,"
Daniel Cuthbertson, a fuel truck operator with CBI construction based in
Taft, Calif., said later at a police roadblock.
The company said in a news release on its website that the flow of chemicals to the fire had been cut off by 10 a.m.
State Police Capt. Doug Cain said the explosion occurred around 8:30
a.m. Thursday at the plant. It makes ethylene and propylene - highly
flammable gases that are basic building blocks in the petrochemical
A thick plume of black smoke rose
from the plant. At a roadblock several miles away, where family members
waited anxiously to hear about loved ones, flames were easily visible
above the trees.
Kelly said an ethylene fire at ground level reportedly was waning several hours after the explosion.