Gas plant explosion rocks Florida, several injuries reported - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Staff accounted for at propane plant explosion, some injured

Thousands of mangled propane tanks littler the grounds of the Blue Rhino Plant in Tavares, FL. (Source: CNN) Thousands of mangled propane tanks littler the grounds of the Blue Rhino Plant in Tavares, FL. (Source: CNN)
Authorities believe that human error and equipment failure may be to blame in the Blue Rhino plant in Florida. (Source: CNN) Authorities believe that human error and equipment failure may be to blame in the Blue Rhino plant in Florida. (Source: CNN)
A Blue Rhino propane tank plant in Florida was the scene of several large explosions Monday. (Source: WFTV/CNN) A Blue Rhino propane tank plant in Florida was the scene of several large explosions Monday. (Source: WFTV/CNN)

TAVARES, FL (RNN) - An equipment malfunction could be the cause of several large explosions at a propane gas plant in central Florida.

The impact of the blast at Blue Rhino, a gas tank exchange business, caused at least eight injured, four of whom are in critical condition, and mile-wide evacuations. There are no reported fatalities.

CNN reported human error also may have played a role, according to the initial investigation.

When the first explosion occurred at approximately 11 p.m. ET, there were 24 employees on site. Several have been hospitalized with injuries but all were accounted for by 2 a.m., according to John Herrell of the Lake County Sheriff's Office.

Herrell left open the possibility of other people, either visitors or unscheduled employees, being on site during the explosion. As many as 15 employees were unaccounted for shortly after the initial explosions when emergency services arrived on scene.

"A fire was started and spread to another part of the plant," Herrell said.

The explosion did not occur in the main building where the employees were located, allowing them time to escape, according to Herrell.

There were 53,000 20-pound tanks of gas at the Blue Rhino site.

Residents living in the area reported seeing large explosions and hearing sounds similar to fireworks. Many people took to social media to post images and videos.

Instagram user kevinpreper posted a video of the explosion, describing it as an "Apocalyptic propane factory fire across the lake."

Also on Instagram, user wayde52 posted a photo of a giant explosion in the background with clouds swelling into the sky.

The Orlando Sentinel reported the explosion could be seen as far as five miles away.

Twitter user Danielaa Reynaa posted, "I can't sleep when there is a propane explosion 10 minutes from where I live."

Copyright 2013 Raycom News Network. All rights reserved.

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