Diesel tank explodes at New Albany, Mississippi bio-diesel plant - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Crews continue to fight fire hours after bio-diesel plant explosion

The Mississippi Highway Patrol says the fire at the bio-diesel facility is still burning in New Albany and firefighters cannot get close enough to fight it. The Mississippi Highway Patrol says the fire at the bio-diesel facility is still burning in New Albany and firefighters cannot get close enough to fight it.
Highway 15 is closed as a result of the explosion. Highway 15 is closed as a result of the explosion.
Action News 5's Michael Clark was there as a third tank filled with diesel exploded. Action News 5's Michael Clark was there as a third tank filled with diesel exploded.

(WMC-TV) - The Mississippi Highway Patrol says the fire at the bio-diesel facility is still burning in New Albany. Action News 5 cameras captured the second explosion that happened at the plant Wednesday afternoon.

Carl Harlin, the plant's manager, says the company converts chicken fat to alternative fuel. Despite the explosion being heard, seen, and felt for miles, nobody was injured.

"I walked outside. I noticed every tree in my yard was glowing orange and then it hit me, I said, 'There's something going on,'" said neighbor Randy Whiteborn. "It always worried me being so close, but you never think anything like this is going to happen."

The chemicals that posed a threat are in tanks that appear to be safe.

"None of that's burning, none of those tanks were compromised," said Harlin.

Bill Mattox lives a couple of miles from the facility.

"I heard it at 5:30. It woke me up and kind of shook the house. So it was a pretty big show this morning. A lot of people around town saw it and heard it," he said.

Two of Harlin's employees were at the facility at the time of the explosion.

"He just grabbed the newer guy and said, 'Come on, let's go.' And they ran," said Harlin.

Federal and state agencies are in Union County testing the air quality. So far, there are no reported problems.

The explosion knocked out power to customers in the town of Blue Mountain, which is a few miles from the facility.

First responders were unable to fight the fire for quite some time Wednesday for fear of additional diesel tank explosions. Afterward they said it is a difficult situation because it is hard to fight burning chemicals with just water.

"The best thing we can do at this time, I just let the fire burn itself out, because we don't know which chemicals has [sic] leaked out and which has not," said Union County Emergency Management Director Curt Clayton.

The tanks with substances inside have all exploded and fire crews are waiting for everything to burn out. The explosions also led to grass fires.

The Red Cross provided help to first responders who were at the scene for about eight hours.

Also, the Red Cross provided aid after a gas line not too far from New Albany ruptured Wednesday evening.

First responders knocked on residents' doors on Old Highway 15, urging them to seek shelter at a Red Cross location at the Victory Life Center in New Albany on Denton Road.

It was not a mandatory evacuation, but as the temperature drops and the bio-diesel continues to burn the smoke will settle, which creates possible danger to people.

The New Albany school district canceled classes for Thursday due to the bio-diesel explosion.

Click here to see more photos from the scene of the explosion.

Copyright 2014 WMC-TV. All rights reserved.

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