Authorities in Belle, West Virginia, have declared a shelter-in-place order in the wake of a "chemical incident" being reported at the Chemours plant in the area at 10:02 p.m. local time.
The warning covers all residents "between Chelyan Bridge to Burning Springs and includes all of Belle, Marmet, Chesapeake and Chelyan", the Kanawha County Commission announced.
Kanawha County Commissioner Kent Carper told the press that there have been reports of a smell of a chemical which some believed to be chlorine, but stressed it has not been confirmed yet.
Chemical Incident at Chemours Plant pic.twitter.com/JoRvt3gWkn— KCC EmerManagement (@KCCDHSEM) December 9, 2020
"We believe it (the explosion) was probably caused by a barge in the river area of the plant", Carper said, adding that there have been no reports of any injuries or fatalities.
Here's a photo from the scene in Belle courtesy of Aaron Spencer. pic.twitter.com/ytHybpWRPL— Eyewitness News (@wchs8fox11) December 9, 2020
West Virginia Governor Jim Justice addressed the situation, saying that the state's Emergency Management (WVEMD) is responding to the explosion.
"I was just briefed by our @WVEMD. They are coordinating with @KCCDHSEM in response to the incident tonight at the Chemours plant in Belle. I urge everyone in the area to follow the Shelter-In-Place Order currently in effect. Cathy and I are praying for the safety of all involved".
Several photos reportedly depicting the site after the blast have since emerged on social media.