SLAUGHTER, LA (WAFB) - A cleanup is underway near an explosion that scared some people out of their beds Monday morning. The fire at Monolyte Labs triggered the early wake up and evacuation of many residents on nearby streets. It happened just before 2 a.m.
Delena Winans and her neighbors say they woke up to "at least 10 to 15 explosions." Flames shot through the roof of Monolyte Laboratories.
Within minutes of the explosion, the plant which makes polymer to separate solids from liquids in the waste water treatment process was covered in flames. Slaughter, LA Fire Chief David Hughes says he has never seen anything quite like it. "Flames extended from every facet of the building," he said.
It took 40 firemen about two hours to put out the massive fire. Daylight revealed a mangled mess of metal; bent beams and folded tin under a cloud of smoke. Chemicals from the lab spilled onto the street and into nearby ditches.
Fire crews from Zachary and Baton Rouge responded to assist with the fire.
Nearby business workers hurried to the site as soon as they got word.
"We were worried about the flames and the chemicals catching on fire and coming onto our property through the ditch system and catching our equipment on fire setting our company on fire," said Cade Bubois with Major Industry.
The lab employs 25 people, but fortunately, no one was on site when the fire began and no one was injured.
Vacuum trucks arrived by mid-morning to begin sucking the chemicals from the ditches. Plant workers say the make-up of the liquids at the lab is environmentally friendly and should cause no harm.
The Department of Environmental Quality was on hand to sample the chemicals in the water and supervise the clean up and disposal process.
The State Fire Marshal's Office was called in to investigate, but firefighters say given the extent of the damage, it could be several months before a cause is determined.
The president of the lab, Jim Kane, released a statement Monday afternoon.
It said "We are completely focused on securing the facility and executing our emergency site plan that was developed to address critical safety, environmental and community needs."
Monolyte employs 25 people and there are usually 15 to 20 people on site at any given time.
Normally, six to 10 people work at the plant at night, but not on Sundays.