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Firefighters work to extinguish a fire at an abandoned plywood mill in Arkansas.

A large fire at an Arkansas plywood mill prompted evacuations in the surrounding area.

Around 11 a.m. Oct. 28, the Crossett Fire Department reported the smoke coming from the Georgia Pacific plywood mill, located just off U.S. 82, was “extremely toxic.”

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Later that morning, the department began evacuating the blocks surrounding the mill, instructing anyone from 1st Avenue to 3rd Avenue to leave the area. 

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A demolition crew was doing work inside the mill when an explosion occurred and the fire began,” said Jennifer King, a spokeswoman with Georgia Pacific. There were oxygen tanks inside the mill, she said, though she didn’t know whether they contributed to the fire. 

King said she believed everyone on the crew was able to escape the mill before the fire spread, and no injuries have been reported at hospitals in the area.

About 50 people were still at work at Georgia Pacific Chemical Plant, which is located beside the mill. King said the company has no plans to evacuate that building. 

The mill has been abandoned for years and Georgia Pacific planned to finish demolishing it by next spring. With the wood rotting and dried out, little maintenance being performed and no air running through the plant, the building was vulnerable, officials said. 

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