An explosion rocked a chemical waste facility Tuesday night near Bremen in northwestern Germany, injuring several people, police said.

Police told the DPA news agency that one person was severely burned in the blast and that the explosion damaged a nearby residential area in the town of Ritterhude, which is in the county of Verden-Osterholz.

The injured man was found in the rubble and several local residents were slightly injured, police and firefighters said.

The 9 p.m. blast in Ritterhude could be heard for miles and sparked an intense fire.

Marcus Neumann, spokesman for the local Verden-Osterholz police, said authorities believe the injured man is a plant employee whose car was found outside the plant.

Neumann said the employee responded to an alarm on his beeper, and drove from his home to the plant to investigate.

Neumann said the cause of the blast was not clear, as the site was still too hot and not yet accessible to investigators.

The plant is owned by Organo Fluid GmbH, which specializes in recovering valuable solvents from mixtures of solvents.