EPA monitoring runoff after intense Jacksonville chemical fire

Jacksonville fire concerns

JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - The Jacksonville Fire Marshall's Office and the EPA have been investigating the cause of a large industrial fire, which led to multiple explosions early Wednesday morning. Those explosions could be seen from miles away.

The fire began around midnight at Century Industrial Coating off U.S. highway 69 in Jacksonville.

One Jacksonville resident says from a distance, she thought what she heard could have been a gun shot, until the sound repeated itself.

"I'm partially deaf so I really don't hear a lot of anything in my right ear, but yes, it was roaring," said resident Jammie Cody.

One nearby facility supervisor said he and his employees were forced to evacuate as the fire gained strength.

"Everybody's reaction was 'what's happening' 'what's going on?'" said Maintenance Supervisor Marshall Whiteley. "It was pretty shocking."

Jacksonville fire crews said removing anyone is potentially hazardous in areas.

"The main concern was the people, because of the smoke and because of the possible explosions," said Whiteley. "The unknown is the reason why we were evacuated."

A small grass fire headed towards the evacuated facility was extinguished, but Marshall Whiteley says if it would have inched any closer, it could have been increasingly dangerous for the area.

"The facility beside us, he takes recycled plastic and dirt," said Whiteley. "It's kind of hard to tell exactly what would've happened, but I am pretty sure it would be devastating, if the fire was to actually have gotten over here."

Jacksonville Fire Chief Keith Fortner says there are multiple teams working diligently to maintain a safe living environment for area residents.

"We got in touch with the county commissioner and he dammed up a creek to catch the runoff," said Fortner. "We are also working with the EPA right now to make sure that none of that is getting out."

The Jacksonville Fire Chief says their department is turning over the investigation to the state fire Marshall's office, for an exact cause as to how this fire began.

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