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Fertilizer Plant Catches Fire In Athens In Henderson County; No Injuries Reported

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Henderson County Now
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Downtown Athens in Henderson County was evacuated Thursday evening after a fertilizer storage facility caught fire.

Downtown Athens in Henderson County was evacuated Thursday evening after a fertilizer storage facility caught fire. The facility stores ammonium nitrate, the same fertilizer that exploded last year in West, killing 15 people.

No injuries have been reported in Athens, a town of about 13,000 people, which is about 90 minutes southeast of Dallas.

The fire started around 5:45 p.m. A five-block area was evacuated. As of 9:30 p.m., the fire still smoldered.

The facility, Ag Services, is three blocks from the Henderson County Courthouse, the Athens Daily Review reports.

Henderson County Judge Richard Sanders told the Daily Review that firefighters were going to let the fire burn out. The newspaper reports that “tons of ammonium nitrate have been transported each week to and from storage at the Ag Services location.” 

WFAA-TV (Channel 8) reports:

The crumbling cinderblock and wooden structure has been the focus of News 8 investigations several times in recent months. Our stories examined how a building that appears to be a fire risk could house such explosive material. Local [officials] have repeatedly said that the building, which has housed ammonium nitrate fertilizer for decades, is safe and not a danger. Despite the condition of the building, deliveries of the product have continued. Several times a week, a chemical truck pulls up in front and unloads tons of ammonium nitrate fertilizer.

Here's a report from KDFW-TV (Channel 4):

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees keranews.org, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.