Gas Explosions Shower Debris Near Dallas - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Gas Explosions Shower Debris Near Dallas

A series of large explosions sent a shower of flaming debris onto nearby freeways and buildings near downtown Dallas on July 25, 2007. (KTVT) A series of large explosions sent a shower of flaming debris onto nearby freeways and buildings near downtown Dallas on July 25, 2007. (KTVT)
People watch after a series of explosions at a gas facility sent flaming debris raining onto highways and buildings near downtown Dallas on July 25, 2007. Authorities evacuated a half-mile area surrounding the Southwest Industrial Gases facility. People watch after a series of explosions at a gas facility sent flaming debris raining onto highways and buildings near downtown Dallas on July 25, 2007. Authorities evacuated a half-mile area surrounding the Southwest Industrial Gases facility.
(CBS/AP) A series of explosions at a gas facility sent flaming debris raining onto highways and buildings near downtown Dallas Wednesday and injured at least three people.

Authorities evacuated a half-mile area surrounding the Southwest Industrial Gases, Inc. facility and shut down parts nearby Interstates 30 and 35 as the explosions continued for more than half an hour. Video footage showed numerous small fires burning in the area as stacks of gas cylinders exploded.

Dallas Fire officials told CBS station KTVT the fire started when a truck in the back of the business caught fire. The flames then spread to the rest of the building.

Three hours after the explosions started, fire crews were hosing down the charred metal wreckage. About a dozen cars in a parking lot and a grassy highway median were damaged.

The canisters held acetylene and propane gas, said Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokeswoman Andrea Morrow. It wasn't immediately clear what caused them begin exploding around 9:30 a.m. Calls to a phone listing for Southwest Industrial Gases weren't answered.

"I thought it was artillery. It was just coming just boom, boom, boom," said witness Tony Love, a former Army soldier.

At the edge of the evacuation zone is Dallas County's main jail and criminal courts building, but operations continued there uninterrupted, said Deputy Michael Ortiz of the Dallas County Sheriff's Department.

"We are prepared to go into any emergency mode that's needed, but we feel pretty secure here in the jail," Ortiz said.

The Environmental Protection Agency's emergency responders were on the way to the scene, said Dave Bary, a spokesman for the agency's regional office. He said they will assist in monitoring the air, but had no information yet.

Jacqueline Bell, with Dallas County Health and Human Services, said there are certain health risks associated with directly inhaling acetylene, KTVT reports. According to health officials, symptoms of inhalation exposure include dizziness, dullness, headache, nausea and vomiting.

"Unless you were directly at the scene, effects to skin or eyes are minimal," Bell said.

Parkland Hospital spokesman Robert Behrens said two people injured by the explosions had been brought to his hospital in serious condition. A third person was taken to Methodist Dallas Medical Center, hospital spokeswoman Sandra Minatra said. She could not release his condition.

About 30 buildings near the blasts were without power and would stay that way until fire crews fully extinguished the blaze, said Carol Peters, a spokeswoman for Oncor Electric Delivery.

Vanessa O'Brien said she was standing in a parking lot a few blocks away when she felt at least 20 vibrations from the explosion.

"We felt the whole building move and the windows rattle," she said.
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