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Fire at Gas Plant Forces Evacuations

January 6, 1985

ERATH, La. (AP) _ A spectacular fire erupted Saturday at a gas processing plant, forcing the evacuation of a two-mile area around the plant until the flames were brought under control.

No one was hurt in the blaze, said a spokeswoman for Texaco, owner of the plant, which processes gas piped in from wells in the Gulf of Mexico and Vermilion Bay into butane and propane.

Connie Le Maire, a spokeswoman for the Vermilion Parish sheriff, said a two-mile area around the plant was evacuated for about three hours but the alarm was lifted by late afternoon. An estimate of the number of people affected was not available.

The south-central Louisiana area near the Gulf of Mexico is not heavily populated but includes the community of Henry.

In New Orleans, Texaco spokeswoman Brenda Buras, said the fire erupted in the hot oil system of the processing plant. She said six men were in the automated plant at the time, but none was near the fire.

The blaze in the middle of the 50-acre plant covered an area about the size of a football field. Flames leaped so high they could been seen 12 miles away.

Ms. Buras said other units at the plant had shut down and wells feeding gas and oil to the plant also were designed to stop automatically.

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