Hundreds evacuated after Texas chemical plant fire

Reuters News
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Posted: Oct 03, 2011 5:23 PM
Hundreds evacuated after Texas 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 Monday, fire officials said.

The fire broke out at the Magnablend Inc plant in late morning and spread quickly, sending an enormous plume of black smoke into the air which could be seen for miles.

Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins told reporters that by early afternoon, the fire was about 80 percent contained. No one was injured.

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

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

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; editing by Mohammad Zargham)