Two workers hurt in Waxahachie inferno

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by JASON WHITELY

Bio | Email | Follow: @jasonwhitely

WFAA

Posted on October 3, 2011 at 10:31 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 4 at 9:09 AM

Magnablend fire location

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WAXAHACHIE — Magnablend Inc. and its workers are now trying to figure out what happened and what comes next after one of the company's facilities in Waxahachie exploded in flames Monday morning.

Two plant workers suffered minor injuries in the fire, according to the owner.

Every single firefighter in Waxahachie was called in to battle the inferno.

"I think it was just to the point that when we got here, we were behind the 8-ball to start with," said Waxahachie Fire-Rescue Chief David Hudgins.

An hour into the emergency, the crisis escalated from bad to worse.

Chemical tanks began to burst and flaming liquid poured out.

Firefighters had to abandon their positions.

A ladder truck sent by the Ennis Fire Department was enveloped in flames within seconds as firefighters scrambled to safety.

"Everybody was evacuated from that area," Chief Hudgins said. "We didn't feel like it was safe at that point to drive the truck off because the truck was under it, so we pulled 'em out."

The smoke plume could be seen 30 miles north in Dallas, and it wasn't all black; our photographer captured reddish smoke rising as well.

State troopers dressed in hazmat suits to direct traffic around the emergency zone.

The fire started at 10:30 Monday morning inside the Magnablend plant, which mixes chemicals for other companies. The problem apparently started during one of those processes.

"You can feel the heat right in the parking lot," said Navarro College student Jennifer Harvey. She and dozens of others were just a few hundred yards away.

"You could feel the fire as I driving off," Harvey said. "You could feel the heat coming from the fire and the smell was really bad — just a rotten egg smell."

Workers dammed culverts to collect runoff of chemicals and water from the fire. Still, we saw the EPA monitoring some leaks.

After the smoke cleared late Monday, only a shell remained of that fire truck, and Magnablend owner and president Scott Pendery expressed regret.

"It's heart-wrenching, heartbreaking," he said. "This is the worst nightmare for anybody in our business."

Ten hours after the fire started, only a few hotspots remained, but firefighters vowed to stay through the night.

About 1,000 people in schools and homes near the scene of the fire were allowed to return Monday evening.

The EPA said it has not found any elevated levels of chemicals in the air surrounding the plant.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

 

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