Chemical Plant Blaze Keeps Utah Firefighters at Bay

From Associated Press

A fire in a chemical plant raged Saturday for a second day and was so intense that it hindered efforts to find out what actually was burning--and to figure out how to extinguish the blaze, officials said.

The fire broke out Friday in the Parish Chemical Co. plant one day after a 20-gallon spill forced the first evacuation of some 120 homes and businesses. The plant, which makes drugs, herbicides and insecticides, is in an industrial park.

No employees were hurt in the spill or fire, officials said.

After fleeing the spill, the residents returned, only to leave again Friday because of the fire. They stayed away Saturday.

Officials did not know if the spill and fire were related.

"We're a little worried because something has been feeding the fire, and we don't know what," said police Detective Gerald Nielsen.

The spill occurred because a power outage interrupted chemical mixing, causing the materials to overheat and boil over.

It appeared Saturday that the fire was isolated in a part of the plant separated by a fire wall from hundreds of canisters containing chemicals and about 50 tanks holding volatile gases.

Part of the roof had collapsed in the fire, Nielsen said. Crews wore protective suits to enter the building and make videotapes, but they could not get near the fire because of heat, smoke and what they feared might be toxic fumes.

Smoke drifting near homes Friday sent 16 people to a hospital, where they were treated and released. Officials also briefly closed Interstate 15 after the wind wafted smoke that way.

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