An explosion and fire at an Exxon Mobil oil refinery in Texas on Wednesday left 37 people with minor injuries, in the latest of a series of petrochemical industry blazes this year in the Houston area. The fire began after an explosion at approximately 11:07am at an Exxon Mobil plant in Baytown, about 25 miles east of Houston, the AP reports. The facility processes light hydrocarbons including propane and propylene, materials used to make plastic and industrial products. Jason Duncan, the plant manager, said many of those hurt suffered minor burns and all were being treated at a local clinic. Earlier, Exxon Mobil had said in a statement that six people were injured. All employees at the plant had been accounted for, officials said.
Right after the explosion, the fire sent large plumes of black smoke into the sky. By Wednesday afternoon, the smoke had lessened. Duncan said the fire had been isolated and contained but had not yet been extinguished. "It is our number one priority to protect the people in the community and the people that work for us," Duncan said. The city of Baytown issued a shelter in place for residents living west of the plant shortly after the fire. It remained in place for about three hours before being lifted Wednesday afternoon. The cause of the explosion and fire was still being investigated, Duncan said. Exxon Mobil, as well as officials with Baytown and Harris County, had conducted air quality monitoring of the plant and surrounding area but had not found anything to raise any health concerns. (Click for more on the other recent petrochemical complex fires.)