Fire breaks out at petroleum site near Houston

Images from a massive fire at a Mont Belvieu plant

February 8, 2011 12:17:14 PM PST
A fire erupted at a petroleum plant east of Houston on Tuesday, sending balls of orange flame and thick black smoke into the sky.

A Mont Belvieu police dispatcher said there were no reports of injuries or evacuations after the fire broke out at the Enterprise Products site.

Firefighters were at the site, which is located in an isolated area about 30 miles east of Houston. An Enterprise Products spokesman didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment.

A nearby school district, Barbers Hill, kept children inside school buildings while the fire was burning.

In the area beneath Mont Belvieu are salt caverns that make up the world's largest storage site for hydrocarbons. Numerous leaks, explosion and other industrial accidents have occurred in the area's petrochemical plants over the years, including an underground gas leak in 1980 that forced 72 families from their homes for nearly five months.

A decade ago, a pipeline ruptured and exploded and forced 40 people from their homes.