La Crosse chemical plant explosion injures 1; shelter-in-place warning lifted

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A large fire and explosion at a plant in La Crosse, Wisconsin, injured at least one person Wednesday morning, reports said.

The La Crosse Tribune says a large explosion was reported around 7 a.m. at a Midwest Fuels plant on the city's north side. It was put out just before 9 a.m., reports said.

A nearby resident told News 8 the explosion shook her house, and reports say it could be heard on the city's south side.

The explosion ignited a 50- to 75-foot tank containing liquid asphalt, but was nearly empty, Midwest Fuels said at a news conference late Wednesday morning.

"It could have been a lot more significant," Cleveland told the La Crosse Tribune. "There could have been a tank failure. There could have been other tanks exposed."

The tank is in a group of seven others – three of which were empty, Midwest Fuels said. Officials don't know what caused the explosion.

Video of the blast was posted on Facebook.

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The DNR had been contacted in case the fuel leaked into the nearby Black River, but that is no longer a concern, the La Crosse Tribune says.

The La Crosse Fire Department and the National Weather Service had issued a shelter-in-place warning for residents near the plant for about an hour Wednesday morning. Residents were urged to stay inside due to concerns over air quality in the area, reports said.

It was lifted after 8 a.m.

The La Crosse Fire Department said the shelter in place warning impacted homes within a 10-block radius of the company, WEAU reports.

What is a shelter-in-place warning?

The National Weather Service says a shelter-in-place warning recommends the public to go inside, close their doors and windows and turn off air conditioning or heating systems. Examples of these incidents include the release of hazardous materials where toxic fumes or radioactivity may affect the area.

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