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Texas Refinery Catches Fire After Tanker Truck Explodes

The spate of high-profile accidents in energy industries continued on Wednesday with an explosion at an oil refinery in downtown San Antonio.

Reports are that a tanker truck exploded and that two workers were injured. The fire has reportedly been contained. A plume of black smoke could be seen from 40 miles away.

An excerpt from the San Antonio Express-News web site:

Firefighters stabilized a two-alarm blaze at a fuel refinery on the city's South Side after a tanker truck exploded at a loading dock, injuring at least two workers and forcing widespread evacuations.

A plume of black smoke was visible 40 miles away as firefighters went door-to-door urging residents and others to stay at least one mile from the fire, which threatened to ignite some of the dozen fuel tanks nearby. Some of the tanks are heavily damaged, officials said.

"Our main concern is not the fire but the materials of combustion," Fire Chief Charles Hood said.

"It's a very dynamic situation, and we're still trying to get our arms around it," the chief said. He added, "A larger explosion could basically kill a bunch of people that are close by."

A critically injured worker was transported to Brooke Army Medical Center. A second person was treated at the scene. One worker, a driver, was not immediately accounted for, the chief said.

Although there were no immediate reports of health complaints, Hood urged people with respiratory issues to remain indoors because officials aren't sure what substances are in the smoke.

It's not like we needed another reminder of the dangers related to energy extraction and processing, coming as it does does after two deadly coal mine accidents and the continuing massive spill of oil in the Gulf of Mexico.