Fire crews monitoring site of explosion in Shelbyville - WNEM TV 5

Fire crews monitoring site of explosion in Shelbyville

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SHELBYVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

One person has been seriously injured after an explosion and fire at a Shelbyville plant on Monday.

Tanks containing fuel exploded at the Southern Energy Co. facility on Lane Parkway around 10:30 a.m.

Sheriff Randall Boyce said he heard "a really loud boom" and came outside of his office and saw "a black plume of smoke, maybe 30 to 40 feet up in the air."

Vanderbilt University Medical Center confirmed that one person was brought to the hospital by LifeFlight, but the hospital did not release his name or condition.

At best guess, somehow a big rig offloading a chemical to a tank behind the building sparked the flames and, soon, a set of explosions.

By mid-afternoon, firefighters limited their water use, trying to keep the chemicals and the runoff away from the Duck River tributary nearby.

"I know we did the best we could to keep it out of the river," said Shelbyville Fire Chief Ricky McConnell.

Police Chief Austin Swing said law enforcement evacuated a half-mile radius around the burning building, and Boyce said deputies moved nearly 70 inmates out of the Bedford County Workhouse as a precaution.

Boyce says they will have to find a place for the minimum security, non-violent offenders to stay.

Thomas Magnet School in Shelbyville was also evacuated, and the students were taken by bus to Harris Middle School. By mid-afternoon, the students were back at their home school.

Animal control workers from neighboring Rutherford County were called in to help evacuate the Bedford County animal shelter, which is near the site of the fire.

"Actually, they're doing really well. I think they knew something was up when we took them out, because they were quiet, and that doesn't happen often when there's a lot of commotion," said animal control worker Christine Tucker.

McConnell said the man who was injured was a worker at Southern Energy, and he sustained burns to more than 50 percent of his body.

Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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