Flames finally extinguished after Pascagoula plant explosion

Flames finally extinguished after Pascagoula plant explosion
The explosion at Enterprise Products Partners's production plant sent flames high into the sky around 11:30pm Monday. (Photo Source: Earl Etheridge)
The explosion at Enterprise Products Partners's production plant sent flames high into the sky around 11:30pm Monday. (Photo Source: Earl Etheridge)
(Photo source: Twitter)
(Photo source: Twitter)

Crews spent nearly 19 hours Tuesday battling flames from an overnight explosion at a Pascagoula natural gas plant. The explosion at Enterprise Products Partners's production plant sent flames high into the sky around 11:30pm Monday. Emergency crews worked throughout the night and next day to put out the inferno.

"What happened is we had a release of hydro carbons ignite at our plant overnight," said Enterprise Vice-President of Public Relations Rick Rainey. "The resulting fire has diminished quite substantially. The only flame left is residual vapors that are burning off."

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Two workers were at the plant when the explosion happened.

"Thankfully there were no injuries," said Rainey. "Our employees are fine. They were inside a protected control room."

Vibrations from the explosion were felt as far as 10 miles away from the plant on Stennis Blvd.

"The explosion woke us. When it happened, I originally thought one of the shipyards dropped a piece of steel that can shake the house," said Amy Perez, who lives nearby on Pawnee St. "When I heard multiple explosions, I went outside, and when I turned to my left, I saw the fire and explosion, and I said 'holy crap.'"

Although police did not evacuate any homes, Jackson County Emergency Services Director Earl Etheridge said many nearby residents evacuated on their own. He said there is no threat to the surrounding community.

"The message I have for the people at home there's nobody in danger," said Etheridge. "The only ones in danger are the firefighters going in to extinguish the fires but as far as the general public, there's no danger. We'd just like for them to be aware of what is going on and there's nothing to be afraid of."

Etheridge said the plant processes natural gas.

"The plant receives natural gas from off shore, processes it then sends it up to the eastern seaboard of the United States," Etheridge explained.

Rainey reports the plant is shut down until further notice.

"Our people, first responders and law enforcement agencies are there now," said Rainey. "We've also notified the appropriate regulatory authorities."

Rainey said the company will launch an investigation to determine what happened, but for many residents living nearby, an investigation after the fact is not enough.

"I think they tried to keep it hush hush. I can understand not wanting to have widespread panic, but we get no warning at all," said Perez. "I think we should have some kind of warning whether we have to evacuate or not. Living this close, we should have some kind of warning, but nothing."

Barbara Weckesser, with Cherokee Concerned Citizens, describes the area as a "time bomb." Julie Hambey, who lives on Mohawk Ave., agrees.

"What if it was a domino effect because they're all right there next to each other? What if they all start blowing up? That's scary to think about," said Hambey.

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