Texas Town Frustrated by Repeated Fires at Plant


It was a long, stressful night for Marion Hilburn and her husband. They were forced to spend hours in their truck after their second evacuation in about a week..

"The other morning, it was 6:30; this morning it was 3-something. They need to do something," she said.

At around 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, everyone within a half-mile of the Chemplex Chemical plant, located at 2995 CR 430, was told to evacuate.

The plant was on fire and emergency crews were concerned about the possibility of toxic fumes wafting through the air.

Atascosa Sheriff's deputies, Jourdanton fire and police crews and Pleasanton fire crews went door to door, making sure residents were safe. It was quickly doused and determined not to be toxic.

"It turned out to be pallets of sugar, salt and sodium ash. We kept the evacuation order out until we knew there was nothing else there that we didn't see," said David Franke, assistant fire chief for Pleasanton.

Although the incident on Tuesday was harmless, that wasn't the case last Monday.

"Last week, it was ammonium and sodium persulfate and that was a whole different animal there," said Franke. "One of the plant employees was taken to the hospital from inhaling it."

Even though the latest fire turned out to be benign, Hillburn said not only was the evacuation inconvenient, it raises big concerns about her family's safety.

"I don't know what you do about anything like this but this is the second time, they need to do something. It's too dangerous." she said.

The Chemplex plant manager said an investigation is underway but had no comment about either fire.

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