All workers inside the Blue Rhino gas plant in Tavares, Fla., about 40 miles northwest of Orlando, have been accounted for following a series of blasts that rocked the propane gas plant late on Monday night, Sky News reported.
Initial reports indicated that 15 workers who were on the overnight shift had gone missing. Soon after the blast, Lt. John Herrell, a spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff's Office, told Fox News that among the 24 workers who were believed to be trapped inside the plant, emergency services could rescue only seven injured workers, who were then transferred to a nearby hospital.
Two employees escaped unhurt and 15 were said to be missing, Herrell said at the time. But, they were found alive hours later as firefighters worked to contain the flame, according to Sky News.
The explosion took place at the Blue Rhino gas plant located a little before 11 p.m. local time, the Orlando Sentinel reported.
"As tragic as it started out to be, it's looking like a better situation," Tavares Mayor Robert Wolfe told the Sentinel.
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The cause of the blast, which caused the roof of the plant to blow off, is not immediately known, but the explosions are said to have lasted for more than 30 minutes. According to reports, the plant had about 53,000 20-pound propane cylinders on site.
Residents living in close proximity to the plant were evacuated soon after the explosions, but the evacuation zone was later reduced from a mile to half a mile once firefighters contained the flame.
"We could see the flames and the initial explosion knocked us off our feet,” local businessman Jim Mueller told Sky News. “We could see the heat from the flames and it was light like day time. There were two short explosions larger than anything we've seen since. The secondary explosions immediately followed.
"There are at least three large holding tanks about 30,000 gallons each of propane. They're intact and only about 40ft forty feet from the flames. The heat is pretty intense," Mueller said.