NEW IBERIA — A chemical fire that caused the evacuation of businesses in an industrial park Tuesday afternoon continued to burn into the night, emergency officials said.
“We’re just going to let it burn out,” said Louisiana State Police Trooper Stephen Hammons, public information officer.
No injuries were reported from the fire that began at 3:50 p.m. at Multi-Chem, 3401 West Admiral Doyle Drive, a company that provides chemicals used in the oilfield industry.
The cause of the fire, which engulfed the facility, and the chemicals involved were unknown as of late Tuesday, Hammons said.
Initially, an evacuation order within a 5-mile radius of the business was issued, but after two hours the evacuation radius was reduced to 1 mile.
At least two businesses near the site, including the Acadiana Regional Airport, were evacuated.
Lafayette Police and State Police Haz-Mat units and law enforcement officers, Iberia Parish Sheriff’s and fire departments responded.
The business is located in an industrial park developed on a former naval airbase and borders La. 182 and U.S. 90.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s New Iberia Research Center is located within 2 miles of the business and houses research animals — many of them primates — outdoors. But evacuation was not necessary, said Christine Payton, ULL spokeswoman.
Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Capt. Ryan Turner said a few residences off La. 182 near the park were evacuated, but he was unsure of the number.
Residents downwind of the fire were urged to shelter in place by closing windows, turning off air-conditioning units and bringing pets indoors.
“If anyone feels they have been contaminated, they should take a shower,” Hammons advised.
If anyone is still concerned about possible contamination, Hammons advised they seek medical attention.
As of late Tuesday afternoon, no reports of people seeking medical attention were received, he said.
He added that there is no inhalation threat with the incident, but officials are advising people to seek attention if they feel it is necessary.
Just before 5 p.m., a dark gray plume of smoke from the fire could be seen from as far away as the Lafayette Regional Airport, about 20 miles north of the site. As of 6 p.m., flashes of the fire could be seen from U.S. 90. It was still burning at 8 p.m.
Multi-Chem Group LLC, a global provider of oilfield production chemicals, is based in San Angelo, Texas. It operates blending facilities in Louisiana, Texas, Wyoming and California and has offices throughout the U.S., Canada, Trinidad and Tobago and Europe.
The Admiral Doyle site serves as the company’s Gulf Coast regional office and provides local analytical lab services and lists several product lines including: asphaltene treatment products, biocides and biotechnology programs, corrosion inhibitors, defoamers, emulsion breakers, and iron sulfide dissolver programs, according to its website.