N.M. plant catches fire, leading to evacuations

Source: Juan Carlos Llorca, AP/Albuquerque Journal • Posted: Thursday, May 29, 2014

New Mexico authorities briefly evacuated 350 homes after a biofuel facility caught fire yesterday.

The Rio Valley Biofuels plant near Anthony, N.M., reported a series of small explosions shortly after 9 a.m., Doña Ana County spokesman Jess Williams said. County officials declared a hazardous materials emergency, and firefighters extinguished the blaze about 2 ½ hours later.”We heard a few explosions, then a really loud one,” witness Miguel Favela said. “You could hear the fire burning.”Jed Smith, the plant’s operations manager, said its five employees were not harmed.

Authorities aren’t sure what caused the fire at the plant, which they said stores methanol, vegetable oil, hydrochloric acid and biodiesel fuel. It produces 3,000 to 6,000 gallons of fuel per day (Juan Carlos Llorca,AP/Albuquerque Journal, May 27)