Evacuation lifted after Hazmat explosion

fire

Image by matthewvenn via Flickr

Nearly four hours after a trailer filled with hydrogen exploded at a chemical plant, officials said the situation has been cleared and evacuated residents were able to return to their homes. Chester County Department of Emergency Services announced at 2:15 p.m. that emergency responders cleared the scene at Johnson Matthey Chemical Products in the 1400 block of King Road and area residents could return to their homes. Emergency responders were dispatched about 10:30 a.m. after a trailer with hydrogen exploded causing a fire at the chemical plant where one employee suffered minor injuries, officials said.

Chester County fire marshals are investigating the incident that caused roughly $200,000 in damage to the tank car with minor damage to the exterior of the building. Pennsylvania state police and West Whiteland fire marshals are assisting the investigation. Initially, Johnson Matthey employees had been evacuated from the business’s buildings. Shortly after noon authorities notified residents and businesses about an evacuation via an automated phone system, police said. The evacuation area included King Road, Ravine Road, Glen Loch Way and Lewis Lane. West Whiteland Fire Chief Norm Shirk said after the incident that in this Hazmat situation crews had to essentially allow the chemical to burn. Fighting the fire with water could have released unhealthy levels of chemicals into the air creating a more drastic situation, Shirk said. Contrary to reports by at least one Philadelphia area TV station, the entire county was not ordered to evacuate. Chester County Emergency Services spokeswoman Patty Mains said at least one news TV station misreported the extent of the evacuation in an emergency broadcast alert. For more information you can read the full article at dailylocal.com

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