Workers Injured in Florida Propane Blast

by Jim Orr

A huge blast at a refilling plant operated by Blue Rhino in Tavares, Florida has injured at least eight workers, several of them critically. Nearby residents said the sound on the explosion sounded like “bombs going off.” There were 53,000 20-pound cylinders of propane at the facility at the time of the explosion.

Trucks parked at the plant went up in fireballs as the cylinders they were carrying exploded. Firefighters immediately set up a half-mile evacuation area around the plant. The nearest homes — about 50 of them — are almost a mile away.

The Blue Rhino facility refills propane tanks used in gas grills. Employees at the plant perform such tasks as refurbishing cylinders and loading them on pallets and vehicles. The plant produces 2.3 million tanks annually, and serves all of Florida, southern Georgia and southern Alabama. It opened in 2004. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Blue Rhino in 2011 over a “serious” safety violation involving tools and equipment.

Investigators are still trying to determine the origin and cause of the explosion. However, a Blue Rhino employee who was at the plant when the explosions started told The Associated Press that based on what a forklift operator told him, the explosion was likely caused by a “combination of human error and bad practices.” And Richard Keith, the fire chief of Tavares, the town northwest of Orlando where the plant fire occurred, said Tuesday that equipment failure and human error were among the possible causes.

If you or a loved one has been injured in an industrial accident or plant explosion, you may be entitled to compensation. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has represented victims of such accidents and have the experience and expertise to get you the compensation you deserve. In 2007, partner Michael Heygood obtained an $18.9 million jury verdict for the family of a man killed in a TXI plant explosion in Midlothian, Texas. To receive a free legal consultation and find out if you are eligible to file a case, please call our toll-free hotline at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form located on this page.