More than 50,000 people in southeast Texas will spend Thanksgiving away from their homes as evacuation orders remained in place after two powerful Wednesday blasts at a chemical plant in Port Neches, about 80 miles east of Houston.

A fire that sent large plumes of dark smoke into the sky continued to burn Thursday at the TPC Group plant, which manufactures butadiene and other chemicals used in synthetic rubber, fuels, lubricant additives and plastics.

Jefferson County Sheriff Zena Stephens said there are no lingering issues with air quality after the explosions, but the risk of further blasts hurling debris and flames spreading necessitates maintaining the evacuation order and a 10 p.m. curfew.

“It’s Thanksgiving, a lot of people are displaced, they can’t go home,” Stephens told TV station KFDM.

There’s no word on when residents will be allowed back home, but officials plan to reassess the evacuation order Friday morning, and Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson said he’s “cautiously optimistic” they’ll be able to return by the weekend.



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