EL DORADO, Ark (KTHV) - An explosion at the El Dorado Chemical Plant woke up residents Tuesday around 4 a.m. Plant managers and OSHA inspectors are still investigating and assessing the damage.
"First I thought it was thunder, but there were too many stars out. Then I said we need to get out because lightning struck the house," says El Dorado resident Tony Shelton.
Shelton learned soon enough an explosion at the El Dorado Chemical Plant shook his house. He rushed outside and saw emergency responders.
"I saw blue lights, red lights, green lights. I said something serious went on back there. Any time I hear anything like that, I take seriously because of the chemical plant," says Shelton.
One of the first on the scene, was the El Dorado Fire Department.
"We do know it started in the sulfuric acid plant and that portion and unit of the facility," says Fire Chief Chad Mosby.
Chief Mosby says emergency responders battled small fires sparked at one of the reactors. The plant produces nitric acid for farming fertilizer. Chief Mosby says fortunately, nobody was hurt and weather conditions were on their side.
"For the most part the wind was calm and it went straight up and it didn't affect the city," says Chief Mosby.
This explosion did not surprise the chief who has dealt with issues at the plant previously.
"In the past we've had fires out there and we've assisted them. Most of the time when we go to a facility, we are there to assist onsite fire brigades," says Chief Mosby.
The town did not have to evacuate, but the explosion still has some residents on edge.
"We understand there is dangerous stuff out there and it could be a lot worse," says Shelton.
Since Chief Mosby says emergency officials have assessed there is no threat to the community, this investigation is in the hands of the chemical plant.
A company spokesperson says he doesn't know how long the investigation will take. The company LSB Industries out of Oklahoma owns the plant and has insurance. The deductible is $1 million.
In a press release, LSB Industries says, "The Company does not have an estimate on the extent of the damages or the repair time, but at this time the El Dorado Facility is out of operation due to the damage, and it is unknown at this time how long the El Dorado Facility will be out of production."