Fire destroys Oklahoma chemical plant, no injuries

OKLAHOMA CITY Thu Sep 19, 2013 11:04am EDT

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OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - A fire destroyed a chemical plant and caused small explosions near a western Oklahoma town, forcing the evacuation of about a dozen people from nearby homes, but resulting in no injuries, a county emergency management official said on Thursday.

The fire erupted about 10:00 p.m. CDT (0300 GMT) Wednesday at a Danlin Industries facility outside Thomas, Oklahoma, a city of 1,181 people about 90 miles northwest of Oklahoma City.

It started about three hours after the last employees left the facility, said Michael Galloway, director of emergency management for Custer County.

"The entire facility burned down," Galloway said, adding the fire had been extinguished by early Thursday.

The fire burned very hot, compelling firefighters and first responders to keep a distance and allow it to burn, he said. There were smaller explosions caused by the heat and pressure of the intense fire, which melted metal buildings at the facility, Galloway said.

The facility had nontoxic but highly flammable chemicals that are used in the oil and gas production industry, Galloway said.

Ten to 12 people were evacuated from homes near the facility as a precaution, he said.

Authorities are trying to determine the cause of the fire, he said.

The incident was one of several recent fires and blasts at chemical facilities in the United States. In April, a fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas, killed 14 people and injured about 200. An explosion and fire in June at a chemical plant in Louisiana killed one person and injured 73.

(Reporting by Heide Brandes; Writing by David Bailey; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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