The explosion of multiple propane tanks sounded like an array of bombs going off that lasted for almost 30 minutes according to residents near a Blue Rhino plant earlier this week. There were more than 53,000 20-pound propane tanks at the plant at the time of the explosion; the propane storage tanks at that location could hold up to 90,000 pounds of propane each.
The fire suppression systems near three 33,000 gallon tanks went off, but the tanks were untouched by the fire. Needless to say, had the large storage tanks been part of the blast, substantial property damage would likely have occurred in the nearby area. As it was, a half-mile radius was evacuated for safety; within three-quarters of a mile from the plant were about 50 homes.
The mayor of Tavares, the central Florida town where the explosion occurred, was well aware that local citizens were lucky that the large storage tanks were not involved in the explosion and fire. The resulting blast would likely have wiped out much of the town, similar to the effect of the West Fertilizer Plant blast that rocked West, Texas earlier this spring.
There have been no fatalities reported from the recent explosion, however several were treated at local hospitals for explosion-related injuries. All workers who were on duty the night of the blast have been accounted for alive, according to the most recent reports.
Source: WGNTV, “Massive damage but no deaths in blast at Florida propane plant,” July 30, 2013