With the assistance of several local fire departments and other emergency responders, crews were able to remove several hundred un-effected and partially damaged cylinders.
As of Tuesday evening, there was a minimal hot zone that remained at the site. Fire crews applied water to the hot area in order to cool the cylinders. Once cooled, crews approached the burned and damaged cylinders to assess the safest way to remove them. The process was expected to continue throughout Tuesday night.
As a safety precaution, US 190 remained closed between Erwinville and Port Allen. Troopers and deputies with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office continued with roadblocks and redirecting traffic, as of 6:40 p.m. Tuesday.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Chemical fire leads to evacuation, road closure
On Monday, May 21, Louisiana State Police Emergency Service (Haz-Mat) technicians, as well as several local fire departments, responded to a chemical fire on US 190 near Bueche Road in West Baton Rouge Parish.
At 10:30 a.m., Emergency Services technicians responded to a chemical fire at the Air Liquide facility on US 190 near the community of Erwinville. It was discovered that the fire involved Acetylene cylinders. Acetylene is a fuel used for welding and blow torches. One worker was injured in the fire and transported to a local hospital with minor burns.
As a safety precaution, US 190 was closed in both east and westbound directions between Erwinville and Port Allen. Troopers, and West Baton Rouge Parish deputies are staffing roadblocks and redirecting traffic. The public should use I-10, River Road and Rosedale Road as alternate routes.
A one-mile radius from the site was evacuated, which included approximately 40 homes. West Baton Rouge Parish officials established shelters at the Port Allen and Erwinville Community Centers.
Due to the volatile nature of the compromised cylinders, crews were unable to approach the site to begin extinguishing the fire without a thorough assessment. Louisiana State Police Air Support was utilized for aerial surveillance so that technicians could inspect the facility from the air. Initial assessments indicated that there were several hundred Acetylene tanks on the facility grounds which were on fire. Numerous other cylinders unaffected by fire were stored on the site.
Late Monday afternoon, after aerial and perimeter surveillance was completed, LSP Technicians, fireman and company officials entered the hot zone to do a detailed onsite assessment.
They were able to inspect several cylinders which remained unaffected by the fire, and they observed several hundred which were still on fire.
Currently, Louisiana State Police, West Baton Rouge Sheriffs Department, Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Erwinville and Port Allen Fire Departments and several emergency response teams are continuing to monitor the situation.
They remained at the site through the night. The evacuation area, as well as the road closures, remained in place through the night, into Tuesday morning.