Fire rages at Mississippi biodiesel plant, injuries unknown-AP

by Reuters
Wednesday, 22 January 2014 16:04 GMT

(Updates with sheriff dispatcher comments, adds plant name)

NEW YORK, Jan 22 (Reuters) - A fire raged at a biodiesel complex after an explosion that was felt miles away in northern Mississippi on Wednesday, a county sheriff dispatcher said, and while there were no reports of injuries, it was unclear whether all workers were accounted for.

The dispatcher for the Sheriff of Union County, who declined to be named, said the fire began at about 5:30 a.m. CST (1130 GMT) after an explosion that she herself felt.

Earlier, the Mississippi Highway Patrol said the blaze was so hot, firefighters could not get close enough to fight it. The dispatcher said the fire was still burning at 9:30 a.m. CST.

The complex lies by the Mississippi Highway 15 about 4 miles (6 km) north of New Albany, a town of about 8,500 residents.

"There were workers at the plant but it is unclear if there are any injuries," Highway Patrol spokesman Trooper First Class Ronny Hall was quoted by the Associated Press as saying. "Once the fire is out, investigators will get in there."

Hall said two businesses nearby had been evacuated. The dispatcher said a portion of the highway had been closed too.

Biodiesel refineries make fuel from a variety of non-petroleum products such as vegetable oil or animal fats. The Highway Patrol said it did not know the name of the facility.

Biodiesel Magazine and directory websites list North Mississippi Biodiesel Inc as a biodiesel company operating close to New Albany and Google maps places the plant on Highway 15 close to New Albany.

A telephone number listed for the plant appeared to be disconnected and Reuters was unable to immediately locate plant officials. Both the dispatcher and the Highway Patrol said they did not know the name of the facility. (Reporting by Robert Gibbons and Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Alden Bentley and Marguerita Choy)

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