The fire at the plant in Brunswick, Georgia, started around 4am, and has forced evacuations in around 100 homes, reports the Associated Press.
Three explosions were reported after crews had responded to the initial call to the fire department, the Glynn County government said in a statement.
Symrise, the German company that runs the plant, said in a statement that the facility produces fragrances for household products like perfume and detergent. The company added that it does not believe the fire will create any “additional health hazards” for the community.
The Glynn County government said that the fire was burning from a chemical called hydrogen peroxide pinene. A statement from Symrise said that the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
Eric Prosswimmer, a fire captain from nearby Jacksonville, Florida, who was on the scene, told AP that one firefighter had been injured and taken to the hospital, but was in stable condition. He added that three metal tanks full of chemicals had exploded due to the heat from the flames.
Glynn County said that local fire crews had been joined by firefighters from Jacksonville and Savannah, Georgia. The plant sits about halfway between the two cities along the Georgia coastline.
The communities of Satilla Shores and Royal Oaks were evacuated, the sheriff’s office said on Facebook, and as of the afternoon, residents were not cleared to return home. In neighbouring Camden County, the communities of Hickory Bluff, Dover Bluff, Waverly, Lampadoshia and parts of Sanctuary Bluff were being asked to shelter in place.
All homes within a one-mile (1.6-kilometre) radius had been evacuated, with homes within three miles (4.8 km) had been told to shelter in place, AP reports.
The Glynn County government reported that two schools were under shelter-in-place orders on Monday. Children who live in Royal Oaks and Santilla and take the bus to school will need to be picked up by their parents, they added, since buses will not be allowed in restricted areas.
Camden County said that some residents had reported a smell in the air, which they confirmed to be a result of terpenes from the chemical plant. While this can aggravate some health conditions like asthma, the smell is non-toxic, the county added.