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Hundreds Flee Toxic Chemical Explosion

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Associated Press

A toxic chemical exploded at a plant Friday, creating a poisonous cloud that forced the evacuation of hundreds of people.

At least 173 people were taken to local hospitals, most suffering mild respiratory problems. All were released after treatment. There were no serious injuries, authorities said.

The compound spilled and ignited at PCR Inc. after a line that was being used to transfer it from a tanker truck ruptured, said Keith Baucom, a vice president at Harris Specialty Chemicals, PCR’s parent company.

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Emergency crews evacuated a six-square-mile area around the plant, including a housing development. The evacuees were allowed to return home by Friday night.

The compound, trichlorosilane, is used in a variety of chemical products, including silicone, said Scott Seeburger, a spokesman for Dow Corning Corp. It can cause burns to the eyes and skin.

Firefighters battled the blaze at the plant for three hours before they were able to seal off the leak.

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