The flames shot up around 6 p.m. (Source: Henderson County Now)
(Source: KLTV Viewer)
ATHENS, TX (KLTV) -
Fire crews are letting a smoldering fertilizer facility near downtown Athens burn itself out while investigators search for the cause of the fire.
Emergency personnel began battling the blaze near the downtown square at around 5:43 p.m. Thursday. No explosion was reported, according to the Athens Police Department. Families who live near the fertilizer plant were still being told as late as 10 p.m. to stay away from the East Texas Ag Services fertilizer storage building, where the fire started.
The building is located on North Underwood Street in Athens. No injuries were reported.
Police evacuated downtown Athens in a five block radius around the facility, which was storing fertilizer at the time of the fire. "We do not know how much ammonium nitrate was in the building," Athens Mayor Jerry Don Vaught said. "There was ammonium nitrate in the building."
Smoke from the fire was visible from miles away. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the Environmental Protection Agency are monitoring the air quality in downtown Athens. Early Friday, the Henderson County Fire Marshall arrived at the scene to begin an investigation.
Earlier this year a Mexican food restaurant right next door to the plant went up in flames. The fertilizer building did not catch fire, though it was a concern voiced by residents.
Henderson County offices in downtown Athens will remain closed, at least, until noon on Friday.
Trinity Valley Community College activated its TVCC Alert system as a precaution to notify staff and students of the situation. Students who live on campus were bused to a neighboring city Thursday and stayed overnight in a hotel.
Tuesday, September 16 2014 7:31 AM EDT2014-09-16 11:31:48 GMT
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