The City of Baytown has just spent roughly half the day under a shelter-in-place order after an explosion erupted at the ExxonMobil Baytown plant this morning.
The incident started with a fire at the Baytown Olefins Plant, a 40-year-old facility that is listed on Exxon's website as one of the largest ethylene producers in the world. The explosion was powerful enough to rattle windows and scare dogs near the refinery, according to the Houston Chronicle.
The Baytown Olefins Plant processes hydrocarbons including propane and polypropylene, according to a statement issued by Exxon. The company asked Baytown officials to issue a shelter-in-place this morning, a little after 11 a.m., as the initial explosion was reported by KHOU and area residents started noting plumes of thick, black smoke billowing into the sky, the City of Baytown noted on Twitter.
Altogether, 37 people were injured by the fire with what were described as "non-life-threatening injuries," according to Exxon, in what Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo contends was the fourth such incident that the Baytown community has experienced this year.
The fire was contained by about 3 p.m. this afternoon, and the shelter-in-place order was lifted. Exxon officials are working to figure out what caused the explosion at the facility, while teams from Baytown, Harris County and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality continue to monitor air quality in the area.