Port Allen — A chemical fire in Port Allen injured one man, shut down a road and forced an evacuation. State Police say a state of emergency has been declared.
“It was probably the loudest thing I’ve ever heard,” Caleb Gauthreaux, an employee who works at a business next door to where the fire occurred, described. “There were bottles actually flying in the area when the explosion happened at the beginning.”
The fire broke out at Air Liquide, located between Port Alen and Erwinville. It happened shortly after 10:30 a.m. on Monday, May 21. State Police say that the bottles contained Acetelyne, which is a chemical used in a blow torch.
“When it first happened we saw a good bit of thick, black smoke and fire,” Gauthreaux continued. “First they evacuated us to one side of the plant, then to the other, now we’re completely moved out.”
An evacuation order was issued for a half-mile radius around the plant. The area is mostly industrial, but a people living in nearby homes were evacuated.
At least one individual was injured in the accident. Acadian Ambulance reports that the man had an injury to his eyes.
“It’s cluttered with fire and police,” Gauthreaux noted.
US 190 at Bueche Road was shut down. Eastbound traffic is being diverted at LA 413 to Rosedale Road. Westbound traffic is being diverted onto LA 1145 to Rosedale Road. Troop A advises that the incident command post is now located in the median on US 190 between LA 1145 and Cajun Circus.
For now, the fire seems to be dying down.
“There are no extreme flames anymore,” Gauthreaux said at noon. “It seems to be calming down, now.”
However, emergency workers are asking everyone to avoid the area and advise that the road will continue to be shut down until further notice.