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All accounted for after propane plant blast

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Posted at 7:19 AM, Jul 30, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-30 07:19:06-04

By Ed Payne, CNN

(CNN) — All employees working at a Blue Rhino propane tank refilling plant in central Florida are accounted for following a fire and multiple explosions, said Lt. John Harrell, a spokesman for the Lake County Sheriff’s office.

Up to 26 employees escaped as the fire began, Blue Rhino management told authorities.

Seven people were taken to regional hospitals, he said. All of the injured were workers at the Blue Rhino plant. There were no reported injuries in the surrounding areas.

An evacuation area of half a mile has been extended around the plant. The nearest homes are about three-quarters of a mile away, according to Harrell.

Video provided by CNN affiliate WESH showed a massive fire, with multiple explosions of propane tanks within the flames.

There were 53,000, 20-pound cylinders of propane at the facility at the time of the fire, Harrell said.

“It sounds like bombs are going off,” Norma Haygood told WESH.

Fire crews could be seen pouring water onto the facility.

The cause of the explosions and fire was not immediately known.

The Blue Rhino facility refills propane tanks used in gas grills. The company’s tank exchange service allows customers to trade in an empty tank for a full one at retail locations.