Breaking News: Massive chemical fire in Denham Springs under control

According to Baton Rouge’s Advocate, the chemical fire earlier reported is currently under control by the roughly 100 firefighters on the scene. Firefighters from Ascension Parish, East Baton Rouge Parish and others responded promptly to the incident and represent the multi-Parish effort being undertaken to combat the giant blaze.

Photo courtesy of The Advocate

The blaze, reportedly visible from as far away as Baton Rouge, was caused by a fire that sprang up within a chemical factory located in Denham Springs. Flames are reported to have risen as high as 30 or more feet into the air even after some three hours and the fire, for the most part, dying down. The fire was fueled by some of the man 55-gallon drums of chemicals being stored at the facility.

The Department of Environmental Quality in both New Orleans and Lafayette were on standby in vase they were needed. Coco Resources, the facility the fire occurred at, stored a number of chemicals in the factory and remixes recycled chemical materials and sells them to customers. These products include general chemicals, oilfield soaps, and oil and fuel additives.

According to Jeffrey Meyers, division administrator of the Emergency and Radiological Services Division, the variety of chemicals produced at the Coco facility makes air monitoring difficult to conduct.

Per the aforementioned article, the facility has had its share of attention from regulators

However, Simms [DEQ environmental inspection agent] noted in the narrative portion of the inspection report that the facility had been the subject of several enforcement actions in the past but had not been considered a “generator of hazardous waste” by DEQ

These incidences date back as far as 1996 and include two incidences in October of 2001 when odors were detected emanating from a warehouse and led to subsequent DEQ violations.

As of this time, more than 100 people have been evacuated from the area, while no injuries have been reported. The article quotes Perry Rushing, chief of operations for the Livingston Parish Sheriff’s Office, as saying

People living and working in a half-mile radius around the fire had been evacuated. “You basically look at where the fire is on Eden Church Road and the railroad tracks and then make a half-mile radius around it and that’s what we’re evacuating,” he said.

One item of note comes from State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, who describes the Coco Resources facility as possessing a “high inventory of petroleum distillates.”

While this incident is still being handled, more information will be posted to this blog as it becomes available. In the meantime, the Berniard Law Firm has experience in chemical leaks and is aggressively pursuing a class action against Dow for the leak in Hahnville in June of 2009. With hundreds of clients represented in the aforementioned class action, our firm is willing to discuss the legal rights of anyone affected in this recent incident.

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