GARLAND – Firefighters let a blaze burn out at a Garland chemicals and plastics distribution facility Friday night hours after the chemical fire left a thick cloud of smoke hovering over North Texas.
The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. at a Nexeo Solutions plant in the 3100 block of Wood Drive and Industrial Lane in Garland near the Dallas border.
Authorities evacuated a quarter-mile area around the plant, which is primarily industrial. However by 6 p.m. Friday, authorities said it was safe for residents to return to their homes as long as they stay inside and avoid prolonged exposure. The Garland Fire Department says the plant has 10 chemicals filed as Tier 2 hazards by the Environmental Protection Agency.
These include ammonium hydroxide, the solvent xylene and aqua ammonia.
EPA "sniffer" planes flew over the scene Friday night to take air quality samples as firefighters were finally able to enter the scene to get a better idea of what happened.
The fire was at two-alarms at 5 p.m. Its cause is still under investigation, but it began in the loading racks, according to a Nexeo spokesperson.
Anyone with respiratory issues who live in the area are urged to stay inside. Jupiter Road has also been closed. Garland police spokesman Joe Harn said officers are keeping residents away from the area. He said the evacuation was successful and doesn't anticipate having to evacuate further.
"Our job is to keep everyone away and let the fire department do their job," he said.
The location is a shared facility between Nexeo Solutions and Valvoline. Nexeo is a chemical and plastic producer based in the Houston suburb of The Woodlands. It employs more than 2,200 throughout the U.S.A. Europe and Asia. It bought the plant from Ashland Chemicals Inc. last year.
Fire trucks sprayed water between the fire and more storage tanks next to the blaze to keep the flames from spreading, though the fire took hours to die down.
Garland Fire Department spokesman Merrill Balanciere said the chemicals were in a pit, and they just let them burn off. Using water on the blaze would've caused the pit to fill up and cause the chemicals to potentially overflow.
No injuries were reported. Nexeo spokeswoman Christina Reynolds said all 41 employees are accounted for.