Recent fire hits home for some students

Monday morning, Whitney Ground, a freshman biology major, received a text message from her mother. It was a photo of massive plumes of smoke from a chemical fire near her family’s home in Waxahachie, Texas.

The fire sparked as workers mixed chemicals at a Magnablend Inc. facility just before 11 a.m. Monday, according to the Associated Press.

Over 1,000 residents near the plant were ordered to evacuate the area. Authorities advised others in the Waxahachie area to stay inside with doors and windows shut.

Although the flames overwhelmed a sprinkler system and a fire truck, firefighters expected to have the blaze under control by late afternoon. No injuries were reported from the fire or the resulting smoke.

Ground’s house is about five miles away from the Magnablend Inc. plant, but the smoke was still visible from her home, she said.

“You can see the billowing smoke,” Ground said.

Several of Ground’s friends are firefighters in the area and spent the day helping with the fire, she said.

Students were evacuated from most schools in the area, and air conditioners were shut off to prevent the chemical fumes from reaching classrooms, Ground said.

According to the Associated Press, it was not clear which chemicals sparked the fire, but the presence of chemical fumes in the air caused concern for residents in the area. Authorities said the air quality readings in the city did not require further action, but they would continue to monitor them.

Magnablend manufactures chemicals used in energy production and was launched in Waxahachie in 1979.

A search of public documents by the Associated Press revealed no significant violations of Magnablend’s  state permits.