FORT WRIGHT, Ky. — Smoke settled in Ft. Wright Tuesday afternoon after an explosion at a plastic plant there one night earlier.
The explosion happened at Interplastic Corporation around 8:15 p.m. Monday evening. Surveillance video on nearby homes captured a white ball shooting into the sky.
“It looked like a white fireball going through the air, and once it landed, it was just nothing but smoke,” said Jonathan Garrett.
He lives beside the plastic plant.
“It shook the house pretty good. Windows started rattling,” said Garrett.
Listen to the explosion in this man’s video. @wcpo pic.twitter.com/KDBrX0nlKO— Courtney Francisco (@CFranciscoWCPO) January 11, 2022
One mile away, another John Moore's home video captured the sound.
That video shows a startled toddler run to his mother as she motions to get into the house.
Watch this video of the moment this family heard the explosion. @wcpo pic.twitter.com/Tp5o2sM3hx— Courtney Francisco (@CFranciscoWCPO) January 11, 2022
“We were all just kind of dumbfounded on what it could have been,” said Moore.
At 8:28 p.m., Kenton County 911 text alert popped up on their phones saying there was a fire incident at Interplastic Corporation.
The alert said “Do not step outside or open door/windows until the all clear has been given. If you feel ill, please call 911.”
The concern was possibly inhaling chemicals, according to Kenton County Homeland Security and Emergency Management Director Steve Hensley.
“It was pretty shocking to get a message to shelter in place,” said Garrett. “[I] didn’t know what chemicals was letting off. So, all the windows was closed. Didn’t nobody go outside, open the doors.”
At 12:10 a.m. the county lifted the shelter-in-place order for those one mile away. It remained in place for those 1,000 feet away until 5:30 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Kenton County officials said pressure built so high in a storage vessel at the plastic plant that a valve released, causing the explosion noise. Some insulation around the tank caught on fire as well.
“It’s kind of scary,” said one neighbor, Charles Cooper. “You don't know if that stuff, breathing it in, is going to cause cancer. My wife gets headaches from it all the time.”
Cooper has lived in his home nearby for 50 years. He was involved in a lawsuit against the plant in the late 1990s.
In this case, the storage vessel that caused the explosion was holding polyester resin, according to the city of Ft. Wright. The resin is commonly used in fiberglass or waterproofing. County emergency management and state environmental protection officials are investigating the cause.
Interplastic Corporation had no comment. The investigation could take weeks.
Local leaders said they will continue pressing for safe operations in a neighborhood filled with families.
The cities of Ft. Wright and Covington are urging residents to enroll in the county’s emergency notification network to receive text alerts.