Texas Chemical Plant Blaze under Control

Wednesday, October 5, 2011 @ 04:10 PM gHale

Workers mixing chemicals was the cause of a massive blaze at a plant south of Dallas is under control and about 1,000 residents forced to evacuate can now return to their homes, fire officials said.

The fire broke out before 11 a.m. Monday at a Magnablend Inc. facility in Waxahachie. No serious injuries were reported.

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The blaze was 100 percent under control in the North Texas city 30 miles south of Dallas, said Waxahachie Fire Department spokeswoman Amy Hollywood.

Officials said the fire sparked as workers mixed chemicals. It wasn’t immediately clear what chemicals sparked the fire, but crews expected to quell the flames by late Monday and allow about 1,000 evacuated residents to return to their homes in the city 30 miles south of Dallas, said Waxahachie Fire Chief David Hudgins.

“It’s the building that’s burning, and there’s chemicals inside, multiple kinds of chemicals,” Waxahachie Fire Department spokeswoman Amy Hollywood. “Saying which kind would be speculative.”

Nicolas Brescia of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said air quality readings in the city of about 25,000 did not require further action but that officials would continue monitoring to ensure hazardous materials did not spread outside the plant.

Magnablend spokesman Donald Golden said the 25 to 30 employees who were inside a warehouse at the plant evacuated safely when the fire broke out before 11 a.m. Golden said the company manufactures about 200 products, including some that are hazardous when ignited, but there was no immediate word on what caused the blaze.

Authorities had ordered residents closest to the plant to evacuate, while they advised others to stay inside with doors and windows shut.

Magnablend, Inc., manufactures, blends and packages chemicals. Much of its business revolves around energy production, including chemicals used to stimulate oil and gas wells and hydraulic fracturing. The company started up in Waxahachie in 1979 and now employs about 250 people, with operations in Pennsylvania, Wyoming and North Dakota as well as Texas.

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality spokeswoman Lisa Wheeler said Magnablend has been in compliance with its state permits. The company had no significant violations.

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