Explosion at Wacker Chemical Plant rocks community
BRADLEY COUNTY, Tenn. —
White smoke filled the sky in Charleston Thursday afternoon.
Construction worker Gary Pirkle describes to us what he heard before he saw that smoke.
"I went to get me a small breather of a break and I was looking just toward the Wacker plant and, all of sudden, I heard something that sounded like a giant bomb go off," Pirkle said.
Wacker officials tell us that noise was an explosion.
Just down the street from the plant, Malibu Boats owner Shannnon McPhail showed us surveillance video.
In the video, you can see the camera shake the moment the explosion happened.
"You could hear the windows rattling. You could just feel it," McPhail said.
Moments later, everyone inside the store went outside to check it out.
"We all stood out front because we could see the smoke coming up. We knew it was Wacker," she said.
At a news conference Friday afternoon, Wacker's fire chief said the chemical was being released into the air for at least six hours on Thursday.
Bradley County EMA Director Troy Spence said the county or Wacker did not have an evacuation route planned.
He wants residents to know that you must sign up for alerts if you want to be notified when something like this does happen.
For business owners like McPhail, she just hopes it never happens again.
"I'd just like to feel a little safer that we're not having to worry about chemicals or explosions or what's gonna happen next," she said.