SCOTTSBURG, Ind. (WAVE) – One man was taken to the hospital after a possible fuel tank explosion at a southern Indiana industrial plant sent thick clouds of black smoke into the air Thursday morning.
The explosion happened just before 10 a.m. at Thomas Plastics near the 800 block of Armory Place in Scottsburg, the city’s fire chief told WAVE 3 News. It’s believed a fuel tank or furnace exploded and led to other smaller explosions inside the metal warehouse but the underlying cause is still under investigation at this time.
The injured employee was flown to UofL Hospital and is expected to survive. He suffered burns to his arm that were not life threatening. All other employees were accounted for and suffered no injuries.
Crews needed about an hour to extinguish the flames, which were said to be heavy when firefighters first arrived. Scottsburg Fire Chief James Richey told WAVE 3 News nine area fire crews responded to the scene; many were there to provide extra water. He explained there were also excavators on scene to tear through the building and expose hot spots that needed to be extinguished.
Richey said that strong winds Thursday did not impact firefighters ability to extinguish the flames but smoke was blown throughout the community. The Scott County courthouse was evacuated but all employees returned to work later in the day.
Richey described the fire as “significant” but explained the front part of the Thomas Plastics building was able to be saved. The back part of the building suffered severe damage from the explosion and fires. There was propane and other chemicals inside the building at the time of the explosion.
Schools in the area were placed on lockdown just to be safe, but no injuries were reported. People in nearby homes and businesses were told to shelter in place. Those restrictions have since been lifted.
INDOT reported a road closure on U.S. 31 between Armory Place and Bellevue Avenue after the explosion. U.S. 31 has since been opened to traffic.