Details are sketchy but, we are receiving reports that there has been an explosion at Western International Gas & Cylinders, Inc. located in Bellville, Texas. They are currently evacuating a one mile radius around the facility and emergency crews are being dispatched from all over to try to contain the fire. No reports of any injuries at this point.
We will bring you more information as it is forthcoming.
[UPDATE] 7/17/2018 @ 0829
The evacuation area was expanded to a two mile radius but, has been reduced back down to the original one mile radius. There were multiple explosions reported. Fire departments from 3 counties have been dispatched. So far, we have reports of fire departments from Brenham, Salem, Pattison, Bellville, Sealy, Cat Spring and Waller on site.
[UPDATE #2] 7/17/2018 @ 1000
We are getting word that the situation is worsening. There is now a mandatory evacuation for a five mile radius around the facility. The water dilution fire system has failed and no longer working. They have called in help from every county around Austin County as well as Magnolia and College Station to help. DPS units are in route from all around the state to help with the evacuation of the area. 159 has been shut down at the river bridge and at Bellville, traffic can use FM 1456 through Buckhorn as a detour. We are unsure if a firefighter has been hurt but, a life flight unit has been scrambled. Water is now being sought from any source around the area. It is projected that this emergency is going to be going on for hours.
[UPDATE #3] 7/17/2018 @ 1020
It is now being advised that all fire, law enforcement, and EMS personnel are to evacuate immediately and they are trying to find a new command center. Members from every local fire department, police department and neighboring ones are assisting. As far as we’ve been informed all workers in the facility have been accounted for.
[UPDATE #4] 7/17/2018 @ 1105
KPRC 2 in Houston now has a helicopter live on scene. The feed is below. However, they are getting ready to restrict the airspace so we don’t know how long it will be going.
[UPDATE #5] 7/17/2018 @ 1145
Pictures are beginning to filter in from the local first responder’s Facebook Pages. You can view them below.
[UPDATE #6] 7/17/2018 @ 1205
ABC 13 is now live with an aerial video feed.
[UPDATE #7] 7/17/2018 @ 1350
The Austin County Sheriff’s Office is reporting that the following roads are closed due to fire at Western International:
Hwy 159 from the Brazos river to Bellville.
Lisa Mae rd
Oil field Rd.
Ives Creek Rd.
Ueckert Rd. East
[UPDATE #8] 7/17/2018 @ 1645
The Austin County Sheriff’s Department released the following information via their Facebook Page:
The evacuation zone has been reduced down to a one mile radius of the fire. All roads behind Western are closed and will remain so for at least a few hours more, or until Bellville Fire command releases the scene.
There are still fires burning inside the facility. They are from acetelyne cannisters that are leaking. They will not be put out until all the gas burns off. Allowing them to burn prevents the gasses from settling into recessed areas which can cause an explosion. Besides Bellville Fire, I have seen fire units from Sealy, Cat Spring, San Felipe, Wallis, Industry, Bleiblerville, New Ulm, along with fire trucks from Montgomery County, Atascosita, Brenham, Latium, College Station, Brookshire, Waller, Hempstead, Chappel Hill, Harris Co, Ft. Bend, Colorado Co, and the Woodlands. I am sure I may have missed some, so if you know of another, please correct me. It is at times like this when a big round of appreciation must go out to all our fire fighters and their brotherhood, for their professionalism, and dedication to the very hard job they do day in and day out.
I would especially like to thank all the citizens and businesses, who came to support our responders with food, water, and anything they may need to make our day a little brighter.
A big shout out to two special ladies from Hempstead, Sandra Koch and Julie Sechelski, who, along with their children, gathered water, ice and Gatorade, and brought to us, just so they could do something to help. Thank you. It means a lot to us that there are so many generous and kind people out there. Additions that I forgot: ( I’m sure there many more to come) Pattison and Monaville. Magnolia. Community VFD from Ft. Bend Co. Fulshear, Simonton. Willowbrook. Tri-County FD.
They additionally released a couple of videos:
[UPDATE #9] 7/17/2018 @ 1830
The Austin County Sheriff’s Department has lifted the evacuation radius around the Western International Facility.
[UPDATE #10] 7/18/2018 @ 1429
The Austin County Sheriff’s Department released the following Press Release to the local media:
On 07/17/2018 at 6:09 a.m., the Austin County Sheriff’s Office received a call from residents in the area, as well as Western International Gas Company located at 7173 Hwy 159, Bellville, reporting an explosion and fire in their gas plant. Bellville Fire and Sheriff’s deputies responded to the call. When Bellville Fire and Sheriff’s deputies arrived, Bellville Fire Chief called for other fire departments to respond and help with the fire. Sheriff’s deputies then closed Hwy 159 in front of the gas plant and evacuated all residents that lived within one mile of the gas plant, as requested from Bellville Fire Chief. At mid-morning, fire personnel had the fire under control and all was well. At late morning, the fire flared up with more explosions and all persons evacuated the fire scene. Fire personnel then decided it would be safe to let the fire burn itself out and extend the evacuation radius to five miles. Sheriff’s deputies, with help of other law enforcement agencies, evacuated residents within the five mile radius of the gas plant. Later that day, fire personnel were able to return to the fire scene and control the fire. At that time, the evacuation radius was reduced to one mile. At approximately 6:00 p.m. the one mile evacuation radius was cancelled and all residents were allowed to return home. At approximately 10:00 p.m. that night, the fire was out and Hwy 159 was opened.
Because of the professionalism of the fire personnel,Sheriff’s deputies, responding law enforcement, managers and employees of Western International Gas, there were no injuries to anyone.
The Austin County Sheriff’s Office greatly appreciates all the help from Austin County EMS, Wallis Police Department, San Felipe Police Department, Sealy Police Department, Bellville Police Department, State of Texas Game Wardens, Texas Highway Patrol, Waller County Sheriff’s Office and all responding fire departments.