FIre, explosion at West Virginia chemical plant prompts warning for neighbors

Four people suffered injuries, a county official said, and the fire at the Chemours site was said to be under control.

A West Virginia chemical facility erupted into flames after an explosion Tuesday night, leading to a 2-mile shelter in place order for area residents before the fire was under control and the order was lifted, officials said.

The explosion that occurred just after 10 p.m. in Belle had been reported by authorities to have occurred at the Chemours plant in Belle, but Chemours said it happened at Optima Chemicals, a tenant on the site.

Four people were injured, including two plant workers, Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper said in an email.

The shelter-in-place directive was lifted early Wednesday after emergency personnel cleared the area, the commission said.

“There was a fire at one of the tenant companies at our site in Belle, West Virginia. Site responders worked to contain the fire,” Chemours said in an email. It directed questions to Optima Chemicals, which did not immediately return a voice message.

Aerial video posted to social media captured images of the fire burning.

Gov. Jim Justice tweeted that he has been briefed and that he and his wife were praying for the safety of everyone involved.

School closings for Wednesday were announced by the county.

Chemours formed as a spinoff from DuPont in 2015. The plant is along the Kanawha River in eastern Kanawha County.

Belle, with a population of around 1,100, is southeast of Charleston. The county commission said that the shelter-in-place order covers all of Belle, as well as the communities Marmet, Chesapeake and Chelyan.