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Blaze Forces 600 To Flee Smoke

May 14, 1986

BATH, S.C. (AP) _ Waste chemicals being handled by disposal crews ignited Tuesday, spewing black smoke that forced the evacuation of at least 600 people for about two hours, officials said.

No injuries were reported in the fire at the Dixie Clay Co., officials said, adding that evacuees had been allowed to return home.

County and state authorities said they did not know what chemicals had caught fire.

″We evacuated the people downwind just to be on the safe side,″ said Bobby Mauney, Aiken County emergency preparedness director.

The drums had been moved from a service station for storage at the plant earlier this year, and workers who had a contract with the Environmental Protection Agency were trying to clean up the waste Tuesday afternoon, said Thom Berry, a spokesman for the state Department of Health and Environmental Control.

The crews were mixing chemicals to create a foam to facilitate the removal, Berry said.

The fire ″caused a lot of black smoke that could be seen for miles,″ Mauney said.

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