According to both Smith County and Tyler officials, a fire that caused multiple explosions on Highway 271 at Tyler Welders Supply will be allowed to burn out, which is expected to take at least another hour, officials said at a 4:30 p.m. press conference on Tuesday.
Massive flames and frequent explosions came from the Tyler Welders Supply building, a result of welding tanks blowing up at the scene. Sgt. Darrell Coslin with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office said that the explosions caused shrapnel to be shot into the air as the acetylene tanks exploded. Coslin said that no more explosions have been heard since about 4:15 p.m.
Tyler Police Department and Fire Department have now handed off the investigation to Smith County Fire Marshall and Sheriff’s Office, since the explosion and fire took place just outside the Tyler city limits.
Highway 271 is blocked at this time just north of Tyler in the area, which is the 3500 block of Highway 271, in the area of CR 35 and CR 34. No traffic is allowed through north or south of the business until the fire burns out.
Evacuations are in effect for a half-mile radius surrounding Tyler Welders Supply. Evacuees are going to Pine Springs Baptist Church, at 2155 CR 334 in Tyler. The church’s phone number is 903-592-0218. The local Red Cross is on standby in case further shelter is needed for those evacuated.
The business is located at 3539 US 271, which is listed as Tyler Welders Supply. Smith County and Winona Fire Department are responding. According to Tyler Police PIO Don Martin, no one was injured in the explosion. All employees are out of the building, he confirms.
Kelly Nellenback, with Leon’s Signs Inc. spoke with KLTV. She says debris started falling on employee’s cars outside the business. Leon’s Signs is fairly close to Tyler Welder Supply. Nellenback says employees thought ash was falling on their car but upon inspection realized that little pieces of plastic were falling from the sky. Nellenback says the metal buildings in the back of their main building at Leon’s signs were rattling every few seconds with every explosion.
One firefighter is being treated for heat exhaustion after reporting feeling lightheaded.
We have a reporter on the scene. Stay with KLTV and the KLTV Facebook page for the latest updates.
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