A explosion at a chemical plant in Louisiana sent black smoke billowing into the air Wednesday afternoon in what witnesses are describing as a “mushroom cloud.” At least six people are reportedly injured as a result of the explosion.
According to WGNO, Louisiana State Police said the explosion took place at a Westlake Chemical around its ethylene dichloride storage tanks.
KPLC reported that plant officials said an empty ethylene dichloride tank exploded, but the cause is still under investigation. Hazmat crews have been called to the scene.
Read Free Louisiana posted on Twitter an image a “mushroom cloud” created by the explosion.
“Huge explosion felt and heard in Sulphur, large mushroom cloud visible toward Westlake,” Read Free Louisiana posted.
Fox 8 New Orleans shared video of the aftermath on Twitter.
Westlake Chemical spokesman Joe Andrepont said all injuries were only minor, with one person treated on site and others transported to nearby hospitals.
“#BREAKING: Smoke billowing from Westlake chemical plant in Lake Charles after reported explosion,” the outlet tweeted.
Area schools were put on a temporary shelter-in-place order, which was lifted just before noon local time.
“***11:58 a.m. update – The precautionary shelter in place has been lifted. As of 11 a.m. all Sulphur and Westlake schools are under a precautionary shelter in place. All students, faculty, and staff are safe. We will provide an update when it has been lifted,” the Calcasieu Parish School Board posted on Facebook.
In November, officials in Long Island, New York, investigated an explosion that was felt miles away and left a crater on the beach. Local and federal authorities are working to determine if it was a test for something more nefarious, including a potential terrorist attack.
The Suffolk County Police Department told Fox News that the device was detonated on Fox Island around 11:40 a.m. off the coast of West Babylon.
According to authorities, local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are investigating the incident and have not ruled out the potential that it was a test for a possible terrorist attack.
“Terrorism is always a concern because people do test devices before using them,” a police spokeswoman told Fox. “The SCPD is investigating with the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force on this investigation.”
The crater left behind after the explosion was 4 feet wide and 2 feet deep. Police are looking for a boat that was spotted leaving the area around the time of the blast.
The vessel was described as 23 feet long with stripes.