Explosion, fire spew cloud over Kansas City
Wednesday, February 7, 2007
An explosion and massive fire at a chemical storage facility near downtown Kansas City forced an evacuation and closed nearby roads, authorities and local media reports said on Wednesday.
The fire engulfed a CHEMCENTRAL Corp. plant but all the plant's employees were accounted for and there were no known injuries, said Missouri Emergency Management spokesman Susie Stonner.
The company stores and distributes many chemicals, some of which are highly volatile and flammable, she said.
"We don't know what caused it," Stonner said.
A huge black plume of smoke from the fire formed a black cloud that appeared to be dropping ash on parts of the city, witnesses said.
A one-mile area surrounding the stricken facility in an industrial area near the Missouri River was evacuated, and a bridge linking downtown with Kansas City's northern suburbs was closed.
Witnesses told the Kansas City Star newspaper the explosion shook windows.
"Windows shook, the building shook, like a bomb from a war zone. I hit the ground. Other guys ducked. There was about a 100-foot (30-meter) fireball in the sky," Mike Colmen of a nearby trucking company told the newspaper.
An operator at the company's Chicago headquarters could not say what chemicals were stored at the plant. The company, which is privately held, is one of North America's largest chemical distributors and has annual sales of around $1.3 billion.
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