MARSHFIELD, Mo.- Marshfield Fire Protection District Chief Michael Taylor says the massive propane fire Thursday afternoon originated from smaller tanks.
During an interview Friday morning, Chief Taylor says authorities still do not know the cause of the fire but know where it originated.
“When we arrived, there were around an estimated 10,000 small 20-pound propane tanks on fire that were going airborne as they exploded, creating a public hazard and hazard to the buildings and community around,” says Taylor.
He says the tanks were located outside the facility. The fire grew to burn some tractor trailers and started burning the exterior of the plant. The fire never got into the building itself. Chief Taylor says crews tried to control the fire to not hit a 33,000-gallon tank of propane on the property.
“I thought it was a sonic boom! Then we went out on the porch, and we still heard noises. Then my husband started seeing this black smoke going up, and you just kept hearing these loud booms. They said that the tanks were going up, way up in the air. It just kept popping. Then they said if that big tank goes off, we’d be toast,” said Lisa Cantrell. Cantrell lives nearby the propane plant and was told to evacuate.
Chief Taylor says none of his crew were injured, but one person from the plant was taken to a Springfield hospital.
Crews responded to the plant around 4:45 p.m. and left around 11 p.m.
“There was guys there that said we had to evacuate. They said, ‘Go out to eat, go to Walmart,’ it’s like ‘Okay.’ So anyway, we had to go for quite a ways, and so we just watched until the flames went down. Then I thought, can we go home? Well, we couldn’t go home yet. I think we got home about 7:00,” said Cantrell.
Chief Taylor tells Ozarks First that the Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Department of Transportation, and U.S. Homeland Security are all investigating the incident along with state fire officials.
“Everything that we dealt with was propane with the exception of a small amount of plastic that burned. DNR is coming to look at that, but I don’t believe there’s going to be any environmental concerns with this fire,” says Taylor.