A fire at a Winnsboro, TX, feed mill Tuesday involving the chemical ammonium nitrate forced evacuations of the nearby area.
The fire forced officials to order those living within a half-mile of the facility to evacuate their homes amid concerns that smoke and burning ammonium nitrate could cause harm, city officials said.
Emergency crews responded to the Valley Feed Mill on East Coke Road at about 12:15 p.m., and officials issued an evacuation order at about 1:30 p.m. The fire involved ammonium nitrate, a chemical used in fertilizers.
Firefighters from several municipalities, a HazMat team, and staff from the Wood County Emergency Management/Fire Marshall, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also reported to the scene.
The blaze produced a yellow cloud of smoke that carried a chemical smell. Air quality around the Valley Feed site was monitored for harmful releases of chemicals and other toxins. On Wednesday morning, officials revoked the evacuation order and allowed residents to return to their homes.
Winnsboro City Administrator Craig Lindholm said although the amount of ammonium nitrate released by the fire is not considered toxic, the chemical could cause respiratory issues and irritation.
No injuries were logged during the incident.
With a fire involving ammonium nitrate, the safest course of action is for the fire to “burn itself out,” said Wood County Fire Marshall Tully Davidson. People outside the radius should shelter in place and refrain from opening windows, and avoid the smoky air outside.