PLAKEMINE, Louisiana — (TodayNews) — A fire at a chemical plant in Louisiana triggered explosions that rocked homes miles away and sent clouds of flame and smoke into the air, prompting emergency personnel to urge several hundred nearby residents to take shelter in enclosed spaces on few hours. and turn off their air conditioners.
The flames broke out late Friday at a Dow Chemical plant on the Mississippi River near Plaquemin, south of Baton Rouge. Iberville County officials told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate that the fire started in the area of a plant that processes ethylene oxide, a highly flammable and highly carcinogenic chemical.
Parish Sheriff Bret Stussy said no one was hurt and that the company had accounted for all of its employees.
Residents of approximately 350 households within half a mile (0.80 km) of the plant were ordered to take shelter inside for several hours at night. While Dow Chemical and environmental authorities monitored the air for hazardous materials, emergency workers urged sheltered residents to turn off air conditioners and ceiling fans.
The Iberville Parish Council said in a statement early Saturday morning that no hazards have been identified and that people can leave their homes as Dow emergency crews “continue to fight the fire.”
The sheriff told WBRZ-TV that there were six explosions at the plant around 9:30 pm Friday. It was seen how a high flame with thick smoke overhead was rising from the place.
Residents felt their homes shake in Baton Rouge, about 15 miles (24 km) away, according to WAFB-TV.
Kenneth Heidel said that he was with family members near the station when they heard several loud explosions at intervals of a few seconds.
“We looked up into the sky and the whole sky was lit up in orange,” Heidel said.
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