CALIFORNIA IN BRIEF : ROSAMOND : Soil Catches Fire at Chemical Plant
Soil saturated with flammable and toxic chemicals caught fire around an abandoned chemical plant, prompting firefighters to evacuate residents of a sparsely populated desert area. No injuries were reported. Firefighters said the blaze started with a grass fire that swept toward the abandoned chemical plant, which contained barrels of cyanide, flammable chemicals, mercury and oxidizers. “We didn’t have the barrels on fire, but the chemicals in the dirt were burning, if you can picture that,” said Kern County Fire Capt. Kenneth Frasca. He said there were several chemicals in the soil around the plant, which has been under a cleanup order by several agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, for the last year. Authorities estimated that residents of about 75 to 100 scattered houses, mobile homes, apartments and a motel in the desert area 65 miles north of Los Angeles were evacuated.