Athens fertilizer storage building on fire. (Source: KLTV News staff)
ATHENS, TX (KLTV) -
City leaders in Athens met to discuss a large fire that evacuated a large part of their city just over a week ago.
Athens City Council met Monday night, their first meeting since fire destroyed the East Texas Ag Supply storage building in the downtown area. Little is left of the decades-old structure other than some chemicals that remain covered with a tarp, along with cinder blocks that mark where the building once stood.
Fire Chief John McQueary briefed the council at the meeting. McQueary first honored the first responders for their service to the community during the fire, saying "I couldn't be more proud. They stood their ground until I said evacuate."
McQueary said he hopes to have a final report from the state fire marshal's office by June 27. He said he has requested the owner get a bonded, certified cleanup consultant to assist in the next phase. He also announced a plan to require the owner to keep up 6' fencing and have 24-hour security watch on-site.
"The first step is to reduce product down to 28 percent ammonium nitrate, that way it is safe to transport," McQueary said. He also said there is no exact timeline for the cleanup, but says he is "sure the public would like it to be nothing but a slab" where the storage building once stood.
There was also discussion on possible zoning changes. The City Administrator said the council will get drafts as soon as possible.
We are told that the storage facility was set up decades ago in the downtown location because of its central location to the railroad, crucial to getting fertilizer supplies back in those days. Now shipments are received via truck, and that is what happened the night of the fire.
Monday, September 1 2014 2:00 AM EDT2014-09-01 06:00:48 GMT
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