23 Oct 2022: Fire at Fertilizer Plant

A fire at a Fertilizer plant destroyed the building and kept firefighters busy for hours on Sunday afternoon, Oct. 23. The local authorities issued a shelter-in-place alert around 4:30 p.m. for anyone living within a mile to the northeast of the plant. Firefighters managed to bring the fire under control shortly after 5 p.m., but the building had collapsed. No injuries have been reported. The fire is expected to continue to smolder for about 24 hours. Firefighters are remaining on scene to keep an eye on the site. People living northeast of the fire who have respiratory issues should continue to take precautions, such as wearing a mask and staying indoors through Monday morning, Oct. 24. The local authorities are investigating the cause of the fire.

Update Oct 28: The fire that destroyed a fertilizer plant Sunday near Moses Lake continued to smolder Thursday, emitting smoke and potentially dangerous gases that caused health officials to continue to urge residents to take precautions. The health advisory from the Grant County Health District is for residents downwind of the Wilbur Ellis facility fire, according to a Grant County Sheriff’s Office news release. The release said particulate matter, similar to what can be generated from wildfire, and noxious gases are traveling with the wind. The particulate matter van be unsafe if inhaled, according to the sheriff’s office. Seven monitoring locations set up by the Washington state Department of Ecology and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported a downward trend in particulate concentrations east of the site. Sulfur dioxide was detected through air monitoring tests. Sulfur dioxide is a colorless gas with an “irritating, pungent odor,” the release said. It is a known byproduct of burning fertilizer products, including those at the site. Exposure to the toxic gas may irritate the eyes, nose, throat and airways. Contact your health care provider if you have symptoms or are concerned about exposure. Officials recommended wearing a KN95 mask to protect from particulate matter. The masks do not protect from gases, including sulfur dioxide, the release said. On Tuesday, officials lifted a shelter-in-place notice for residents threatened by smoke. The plant collapsed after it was engulfed in flames Sunday afternoon, the sheriff’s office said. The cause of the fire, which did not cause injuries, was undetermined earlier in the week.

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