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Explosions reported at Arkema chemical plant that lost power due to flooding

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HOUSTON — Two explosions have been reported at a Houston-area chemical plant that lost power amid flooding from Harvey.

The Houston Chronicle says a statement from the company says the Harris County Emergency Operations Center reported two explosions and black smoke coming from the Arkema Inc. plant early Thursday.

In a tweet, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office said a deputy was taken to the hospital after inhaling fumes. Nine other deputies drove themselves to the hospital as a precaution, the paper reported.

A spokesman for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality says the agency is monitoring a fire at a flooded Houston-area chemical plant but is not immediately testing the toxicity of the smoke from it.

The Arkema Inc. plant was rocked by fires and two explosions early Thursday.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokesman Andrew Keese says the top concern is “safety, and that’s what the first responders are dealing with right now.”

Keese also provided an agency statement Thursday that said, “Because the fire will be extinguished as soon as possible, there is minimal risk of long-term health problems.”

The statement urged people in the area to stay “indoors with doors and windows closed and running the air conditioning (if possible) with the fresh intake closed. If it is absolutely necessary to be outdoors, try to move out of the plume of smoke and minimize heavy work, exercise, or children’s playtime.”

A spokeswoman for the plant in Crosby, Texas, said late Wednesday that the flooded facility had lost power and backup generators amid Harvey flooding, leaving it without refrigeration for chemicals that become volatile as the temperature rises.