Waxahachie fire forces evacuation of 700 students

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by JONATHAN BETZ

WFAA

Posted on October 3, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Updated Monday, Oct 3 at 10:34 PM

Magnablend fire location

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WAXAHACHIE — One of the biggest concerns in the minutes after the Waxahachie chemical fire started Monday morning was for children at a nearby school.

At first, kids were kept inside; later, they were taken to safer ground.

Now that the smoke has cleared from the sky over Ellis County,, so has a lot of the concern. But it was a different story earlier in the day after the fire erupted at the Magnablend chemical plant.

Students at Wedgeworth Elementary School said they could clearly see the smoke and flames from their classrooms. Teachers moved them to hallways until the decision was made to evacuate the building.

The elementary students were bused to the Waxahachie ISD's 9th grade academy, where they were later reunited with parents — some students still wearing protective masks.

Many parents said they were just as fearful of the potentially dangerous smoke as they were the flames at the chemical plant.

"I heard about the explosion and I know how close it is to my daughter's school," said Shemekia Shumaker. "I got pretty worried."

"I just wanted to get them away from it so the chemicals don't affect the medical issues that they already have," added parent Louvenia Brown.

No one was injured during the evacuation, and Wedgeworth Elementary escaped damage from the fire.

School officials said regular classes would resume on Tuesday.

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com

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