Tavares Blue Rhino Plant Explosions: Several Injured, Some Critically

All employees who were working at time of explosion have been accounted for: Spokesman

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    NEWSLETTERS

    At least eight people were injured after a series of explosions rocked the Blue Rhino LP gas plant in Tavares, Florida late Monday night. Tavares Police Lt. Jayson Paynter talked about how authorities were dealing with a leaking tank, while business owner Duane Seibert and Gov. Rick Scott gave their reactions to the explosions. (Published Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013)

    At least eight people were injured after a series of explosions rocked a central Florida propane gas plant late Monday night.

    Four people were critically injured in the explosions at the Blue Rhino LP gas plant in the 300 block of County Road 448 in Tavares.

    Series of Explosions at Florida Gas Plant

    [MI] Series of Explosions at Florida Gas Plant
    At least seven people were injured after a series of explosions rocked a central Florida propane gas plant late Monday night. The explosions happened at the Blue Rhino LP gas plant in Tavares. (Published Tuesday, Jul 30, 2013)

    All employees who were on staff at the time of the explosion were accounted for by 2 a.m. Tuesday after more than a dozen had been unaccounted for, Lake County spokesman John Herrell said, according to WESH.

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    Herrell said 24 to 26 workers were on staff when the explosions happened around 11 p.m.

    Three victims were flown to Orlando Regional Medical Center with critical burns and at least two others were hospitalized. No fatalities were immediately reported.

    "It's very, very dramatic. It's surreal," Herrell said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."

    Tavares Battalion Commander Eric Wages said five workers walked up to a command center firefighters set up near the plant Monday night with skin hanging off their arms, torso and faces. He said their arms were outstretched and they were in complete shock.

    Officials haven't said what caused the explosions, though a fire broke out at the plant around 10:30 p.m.

    A combination of human error and equipment error are to blame for the incident, officials said. The incident is still being investigated.

    Marni Whitehead, 33, who lives less than a mile from the plant, said she was in bed ready to go to sleep when she heard a loud boom.

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    "It was like a car had run into my house, is what I thought had happened," she said.
     
    She ran outside and saw other neighbors outside and then they saw the explosions.
     
    "We knew right away it was the plant, the propane plant," Whitehead said. "After that, it was just sort of panic."

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    Whitehead likened the explosions to Fourth of July fireworks. "And it was just boom after boom after boom," she said.
     
    Herrell said officials believe the fire was contained and wouldn't spread to another part of the plant but they could not guarantee that.
     
    Herrell said the plant usually has 53,000 20-pound propane tanks.

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