An explosion late Wednesday rocked a plant that makes duct tape (search), shooting a fireball into the air and shaking homes a mile away. One employee was killed, officials said.

The blast at the Intertape Polymer Group (search) plant happened shortly before 11 p.m., said Bradley Anderson, Columbia fire chief.

Firefighters contained the blaze less than an hour after the explosion, although a small fire continued to burn two hours after the blast, Anderson said.

The identity of the dead worker was not immediately released, but it appeared he was on a boiler in the plant when it exploded. Anderson said.

Emergency officials asked residents living near the plant to stay inside and turn off their ventilation systems because of thick smoke, authorities said.

Intertape Polymer Group has its headquarters in Montreal and has 12 other plants in the United States, according to its Web site.