As I traveled to the project site over a local bridge, I could see the fire was much more than normally seen in a refinery incident. As opposed to a single fire, the fire was spread over a large area, and was roaring hours after the explosion. The rising sun revealed a huge plume of black smoke, which drifted across the sky to the horizon.
Since I was about seven miles from the facility, I could see the smoke as we worked. Over the morning, it appeared to be subsiding, until about lunchtime. At that time - which I later learned was the time of smaller explosions - the smoke increased.
At about 2:30 in the afternoon, I was leaving a lumber yard, when I heard the dull thump of an explosion. A production tower had exploded, and launched like a rocket a few hundred feet into the air. Things were now getting more than serious, and local emergency officials soon called for an evacuation in a 4 mile radius.
The video above is of the second major explosion. It's something to see, and if you notice the spherical tanks in some of the video, know how these can be huge bombs, the fact they're so close to the flames is more than a concern. If one explodes, the rest will go, and the damage will be flattened homes for miles, the involvement of other close refineries, and the possibility of an event rivaling the Texas City disaster.
Some will have a different Thanksgiving, since they were forced to leave their homes. Many can't do emergency repairs on their homes, and I'm sure their anxiety levels are at the top.
This morning, there are reports the fire is better controlled, will burn down over the next 24 hours, and the spherical tanks are staying cooled with water being pumped by fire fighting crews to the fire monitors. I don't relish their job, and wonder how they can even consider being so close to what could be a certain death. Still they're working, and everyone is praying the event will soon be over.
Update: As of this morning, Friday November 29, the evacuation order was lifted, and it's reported all fires are out. Now, the damage assessment begins, people will have time to survey their damaged homes, and personal injury attorneys will be swamped with telephone calls.