Florida chemical plant fire

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Cleanup begins after huge fire at Lake Alfred chemical plant

The Associated Press Web-posted: 9:58 a.m. Mar. 8, 2000

LAKE ALFRED -- A chemical plant will be closed for the next several days while workers repair damage and clean up after a fire, authorities said. Firefighters worked for three hours Tuesday to extinguish a chemical blaze at Growers Fertilizer Corporation, Lake Alfred Fire Department Lt. Jeff Allen said.

Plant workers were welding a large metal bin around 10 a.m. when chemicals inside caught fire. Workers noticed smoke about noon. The fire started inside a hopper, which is 12 feet wide and 30 feet high. It contained a mixture of sludge, or sewage, and ammonium nitrate used to make the fertilizer.

Allen said ammonium nitrate burns quickly and is explosive. Firefighters evacuated 15 workers and were preparing to evacuate nearby buildings when they got the fire under control, Allen said. Winter Haven and Polk County fire departments came to assist, and nearly 40 firefighters were on hand to battle the blaze. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Polk County Hazardous Materials Team were notified and sand was placed around a nearby storm drain to contain the chemicals. No one was injured in the incident.


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), March 08, 2000

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