LEESBURG, Fla. — An explosion rocked an asphalt plant in Leesburg early Thursday, spilling potentially dangerous tar into the environment.

  • Worker taken to hospital as a precaution but not hurt, official said
  • Spilled tar was flammable but did not catch fire, firefighters said
  • Tar leaked into pipes and potentially into environment

The blast happened near Griffin Road and Thomas Avenue just after 6 a.m., among silos at the DAB Constructors site. It's an industrial area with mostly construction-related companies.

Three workers were present at the time of the explosion. One was taken to a hospital as a precaution, but no one was injured, despite earlier reports, a DAB representative said later Thursday.

The silos contained liquid asphalt. The force of the explosion sent debris in all directions and ripped metal insulation off the side of the silos.

The blast also dented the side of a tank, as well as splashing tar on the side. There were 20,000 gallons of tar inside.

The Leesburg and Lake County fire departments responded to the scene. Though there were no signs of fire when they got there, Leesburg fire officials were concerned about the environmental impact of the tar that was spilled.

"The tar that leaked is flammable. It gives off flammable vapors, so there could have been fire," Leesburg Fire Department Deputy Chief Joe Mera said.

The immediate concern was assessing the damage from the spilled tar.

"There was a leak of tar, so at that point, they were trying to get the tar leaked stopped. At that point, the tar leaked into the drains, so it will lead to damage to the environment," Mera said.

No homes nor traffic on a nearby road were affected.

Fire investigators say a faulty valve may be to blame, though the investigation is still in the early stages.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating the blast.

"It could have been a lot worse," Mera said. 

DAB Contractors sent Spectrum News the following statement:

First and foremost, we are thankful that no one was injured in this occurrence. We can also report that the appropriate state agency has looked into the situation and has confirmed that no adverse impacts to the environment ensued from this incident. D.A.B Constructors, Inc., along with outside seasoned experts in the field, are deeply looking into the causation of this occurrence, so that any similar incidents will be strictly avoided. We are primarily focused on that latter perspective and on returning our hard working and valued employees to the safest possible working environment.