Hundreds evacuated after Dallas-area chemical plant fire

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 03, 2011 4:49 PM
Hundreds evacuated after Dallas-area chemical plant fire

By Marice Richter

DALLAS (Reuters) - A large fire at a chemical plant about 30 miles south of Dallas forced the evacuation of hundreds of residents in the city of Waxahachie on Monday, fire officials said.

The fire broke out at the Magnablend Inc. plant at about 11 a.m. and spread quickly. Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins told reporters that the fire was about 80 percent contained at about 2 p.m. on Monday. No one was injured.

Firefighters and emergency workers from nearby areas, including Dallas, were brought in to help fight the blaze, which was started by a chemical reaction that quickly spread through the building, Hudgins said.

The fire sent an enormous plume of black smoke into the air, which could be seen for miles.

Officials evacuated an eight-block radius around the plant, an area that included schools and a nearby community college.

Beyond that area, "we told people to shelter in place and keep their doors and windows closed," said Diana Buckley, a spokeswoman for Ellis County, where the plant is located.

The plant produces a variety of chemicals that are used in agriculture, oil field production, commercial and industrial cleaning, water treatment and other industries.

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Representatives from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality were brought in to monitor air and water quality, Buckley said.

A fire tanker truck that was used to help fight the blaze was engulfed in flames and lost in the fire, Hudgins said.

(Editing by Corrie MacLaggan and Cynthia Johnston)