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NOTE: Early this morning the Orlando Sentinel reported “multiple deaths and injuries” from the fire and explosions with 10 people unaccounted for. Now it is reported that all are accounted for and there are at least eight employees of the plant injured with no deaths. The fire is now out. At 2:40 this morning residents around the plant were allowed to return home.
Just before 7 a.m., Tavares Fire Chief Richard Keith told reporters on the scene that, “we don’t think there was any act of sabotage or anything like that.”
Instead, “It was probably a human or equipment error,” he said.
He said the plant takes old propane cylinders, cleans them, refurbishes them, fills them and sells them. They pack them up on palettes for shipping.
Officials overnight said that as of Monday, there were about 53,000 20-gallon propane tanks on site. The fire came from those canisters, most of which ignited in the blaze. Due to the intensity of the flames, Keith said, firefighters had to let it burn itself out to some degree.
The three bulk tanks on the property — which hold 90,000 gallons of propane each — did not ignite in the fire, he said.
A massive emergency response was called to the plant, which is located at the 300 block of County Road 448, after multiple injuries were reported.
All employees on staff at the time of the explosion were accounted for by 2 a.m., Lake County spokesman John Herrell said.