West Baton Rouge - Evacuations after plant explosion

From our sister station WAFB in Baton Rouge:

One person was injured, families are being evacuated and US 190 is shut down at Bueche Road between Port Allen and Erwinville due to a chemical fire.

The fire is at the Air Liquide Specialty Gases plant. It happened at 10:30 a.m. and as of 11:45 a.m. the fire is still burning. Emergency officials, along with DEQ and a hazardous material team are on the scene trying to control the fire.

West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office has declared a state of emergency. A spokesperson from the Sheriff's office said numerous tanks have exploded but their main concern is the two larger tanks that have not exploded. Officials believe the explosion was caused by a faulty valve on a tank.

There is a report that one person was taken to the hospital with injuries to their eyes. The West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office says two tanks of acetylene exploded, however, the public relations office for Air Liquide in Houston says the tanks were empty and waiting to be filled with acetylene.

The evacuation has been expanded to cover a one mile radius, but roads within a three mile radius of the plant have been closed.

The Erwinville Community Center and Port Allen Community Center are being used as shelters to house the people evacuated.

The Louisiana State Police said the roadway will be closed until at least 1 a.m.

Eastbound traffic is being diverted at LA 413 to Rosedale Road. Westbound traffic is being diverted onto LA 1145 to Rosedale Road.

Troopers have set up a command post on US 190 between LA 1145 and the Cajun Circus Truck Stop and Casino.

Agents with the Department of Environmental Quality are on the scene.

They reported they responded to the fire around 10:45 a.m.

Copyright 2012 WAFB. All rights reserved.