LAFAYETTE - The chemical fire in New Iberia is under control and firefighters are now working to extinguish “hot spots,” Louisiana State Police Trooper Stephen Hammons said shortly before 4:30 p.m. Wednesday

Hammons said he was unsure when the extinguish efforts began Wednesday at the site of Multi-Chem, which supplies blended chemicals to the oil industry.

The one-mile evacuation order is expected to remain in effect through the night, Hammons said.

Air near New Iberia fire free of harmful combustible byproducts

LAFAYETTE - Air quality remains free of “harmful levels of combustion byproducts” in the area of a chemical fire that began Tuesday afternoon at Multi-Chem in New Iberia, said a company spokeswoman.

More than 400 samples taken in the past 24 hours have “come back without any detection of harmful levels of combustion byproducts, even within the fire’s smoke,” said Katie Dupuis, Multi-Chem’s technical marketing manager.

Multi-Chem’s third-party air monitoring company, CETH, also is monitoring the air quality at three fixed locations, a mobile location and by taking fixed air quality samples throughout the community, Dupuis said.

CETH’s testing is in addition to air monitoring by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality.

The DEQ continues to report that there is no cause for concern based on the results of its air monitoring in the area, officials said.

Low levels of volatile organic compounds were discovered in a culvert near the site, but were “well below any levels of concern,” stated Rodney Mallett, DEQ spokesman in an email response.

Vacuum trucks are collecting runoff contained by dikes constructed onsite as part of the response, Mallett stated.

Dupuis said as of 3 p.m. that the fire was still burning, but was “significantly lower,” and a private hazardous materials’ firefighting team had not yet begun its plan to extinguish the blaze.

“They’re taking precautions to make sure that no human being is placed at risk,” Dupuis said.

Dupuis said the site acted as a storage facility and blending plant for the company, which supplies chemicals to the oil industry.

“It’s not a manufacturing facility,” she said.

The site also housed a laboratory and regional office.

“To our knowledge, the lab and regional office are in tact, however, we have not been able to get on site yet,” Dupuis said.

The site employed about 20 people, all of which were quickly accounted for, and no injuries were reported, Dupuis said.

The company’s claims center opens at 4 p.m. at 6301 Coteau Road in New Iberia. A claims assistance hotline is accessible at (866) 298-2558.

Plan in place to extinguish fire

LAFAYETTE - Williams Firefighting and Haz-Mat Control is expected to begin its plan to extinguish a chemical fire at Multi-Chem in New Iberia later this afternoon, according to a release issued just before noon from Louisiana State Police Trooper Stephen Hammons.

The private company specializes in extinguishing hazardous material fires, Hammons said earlier this morning.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation and the one-mile evacuation radius remains in place, according to Hammons’ release. The fire began at 3:50 p.m. Tuesday at Multi-Chem, a company that provides chemicals used in the oilfield industry.

The facility is located in an industrial park developed on a former naval airbase and borders La. 182 and U.S. 90.

No injuries were reported.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Iberia area near plant evacuated

By MARSHA SILLS

Advocate Capitol News Bureau

The cause of a Tuesday afternoon chemical fire that engulfed the New Iberia office of Multi-Chem in New Iberia remains unknown, according to a release issued Wednesday by the Texas-based company.

“Multi-Chem is conducting a complete and thorough investigation and will cooperate fully with local and state authorities,” the statement reads.

The company has set up a claim facility at Francis Romero Memorial Facility, 6301 Coteau Road in New Iberia that will be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday. Starting Thursday the claim center will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. A claims assistance hotline is accessible at (866) 298-2558.

The company’s emergency management team is on the site assisting with the efforts, the release said.

The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality is also on the scene and has found that emissions downwind and within the evacuation parameter are at safe levels, according to the Multi-Chem statement.

According to the statement, the fire started at 3:40 p.m. Tuesday.

“Multi-Chem quickly accounted for all facility personnel and there were no injuries reported,” according to the statement.

On Wednesday morning, the Iberia Parish Landfill at 5409 Freetown Road announced it would be closed until further notice as a precautionary measure since it is located within the one-mile evacuation zone.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette officials reported that its New Iberia Research Center remained under an evacuation order Wednesday morning, but key personnel were able to remain at the site to care for the facility’s research primates.