FRIDAY EVENING UPDATE: Reno County Emergency Management ended its involvement in operations at Haven Midstream Plant at 5:30 p.m. Friday. It turned the scene back over to plant officials.

HAVEN, Kan. (KSNW) — Firefighters continue to deal with a fire at Haven Midstream Plant, previously known as Tenawa. Nearby residents were evacuated overnight and have since been allowed to return home.

Haven gas plant explosion leads to large fire. Courtesy: Garrett Reihs

The first blast was just before 1:30 p.m. Thursday. When firefighters arrived at the scene, 13114 S. Kent Road, they found flames, heavy smoke, explosions, and two people injured.

Emergency crews established an initial perimeter around the plant while firefighters worked to contain the fire.

“In surveying the scene, Haven Midstream operators have determined that there were approximately 3,000 gallons of liquefied natural gas that was trapped in a containment vessel,” Adam Weishaar, Reno County Emergency Management director, said. “The vessel release values were believed to be compromised and created a potential for an explosion at any time.”

That led to the evacuation of people within a mile and a half of the plant, including the town of Haven, around 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

The Salvation Army and the Red Cross opened a center for displaced residents. It is estimated that 90 people were placed in hotels for the night due to the evacuation.

“We didn’t believe it was going to fair to send them to a reception center or open up a shelter for them because that’s not what we would want to do with our families. So we made the decision to pay for these hotels rooms,” said Weishaar.

Early Friday morning, emergency management announced that all residents could return home, and Kansas Highway 96 is open, except for Kent Road from Lake Cable Road to Arlington Road. This area will remain closed until further notice.

County officials provided an update at 9 a.m. on Friday. Watch replay below

Weishaar said the fire is still burning, but it is helping the situation by relieving some of the pressure on the plant.

“Reno County Emergency Management wants to know they may see small active fires coming from the Haven Mainstream plant. The flames are helping responders keep the scene safe and stabilized,” he said.

The emergency management team believes that there is a “very, very low chance” of another explosion happening.

“Thanks to the mitigation efforts by all of our responders, we have deemed the current situation to be of no threat to our community,” said Weishaar.

State, county, and city emergency management teams and Haven Midstream personnel are evaluating the next steps. They are getting assistance from other gas companies, too.

“We are relying on their personnel to tell us the best course of action,” Weishaar said. “Last night, we were reaching out all over the state, all over the country, to try to find professionals that have dealt with these situations before.”

The Wichita Fire Department also came out to the scene to fly a drone in the area to find out where they can put responders on the scene on foot.

“With that drone feed, we will make sure our mitigation plan that we established last night — well early this morning — is going to be effective and is going to work properly,” said Weishaar.

An engineering forensics group is being flown from Houston to assist. They are a group of environmental health and safety experts connected to the plant. They will canvass the area again and ensure that everyone is on the same page.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) has been on the explosion scene.

Photos from witnesses:

Videos from witnesses:

Video from our KSN Storm Track 3 SkyView camera in Hutchinson:

Friday coverage from Haven:

The explosions happened on a day when Reno County was in a very high fire danger because of the wind. Weishaar said some trees near the plant caught on fire during the explosion.

“Fire District 9 is on scene cutting down trees from a tree row that caught on fire during the explosions,” Weishaar said.

One of the injured people is already out of the hospital. The other person is in the process of being dismissed from the hospital.

The Reno County Sheriff’s Office is on scene conducting the investigation.