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Southeast Texas chemical plant fire forces evacuations, shelter-in-place warnings

Nov. 8 (UPI) -- A large chemical plant fire about an hour north of Houston caused evacuations in Shepherd, Texas, authorities said.

The fire happened at the Sound Resource Solutions plant in Shepherd and all employees have been accounted for, the officials said. One employee suffered from a minor burn injury.

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The San Jacinto County Emergency Management Office said the suspected explosion and ensuing fire happened Wednesday morning but the cause remained under investigation. The fire burned into the afternoon as a private school near the plant was first evacuated.

County officials followed with a five-mile shelter-in-place warning for residents. Heavily-used U.S. 59 was closed in the area, forcing drivers to take detoured routes.

Officials in Livington, Texas, which is just north of Shepherd, also issued a shelter-in-place order after the Polk County Emergency Management Office reported that winds were pushing plumes of smoke toward the city. They also asked citizens to turn off their HVAC units.

Sound Resource Solutions was manufacturing diesel and turpentine at the time of the explosion and fire, according to the plant's CEO Geoff Hartfield.

Sound Resource Solutions has been in operation since 2014 and has 40 employees. Nineteen were working at the time of the incident.

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