Residents of an area just west of Lake Charles, Louisiana have been ordered to shelter in place, close all windows and turn off air conditioning, due to a fire at a chemical plant in the wake of Hurricane Laura.
Governor John Bel Edwards himself tweeted at the residents of Westlake, Moss Bluff and Sulphur to “shelter in place, close your windows and doors and TURN OFF YOUR AIR CONDITIONING UNITS.”
“There is a chemical fire,” he added. “Stay inside and wait for additional direction from local officials.”
Shelter in Place warnings remain in effect until further notice for the Westlake/Moss Bluff/Sulphur areas due to an ongoing chemical fire. Louisiana State Police are responding to the event have shut down areas of I-10 near the fire. #lawx
— NWS Lake Charles (@NWSLakeCharles) August 27, 2020
The orders are in effect “until further notice,” local authorities said. A portion of interstate highway I-10 has been closed off due to the fire.
Videos of the fire shared on social media show a massive cloud of black smoke rising over the water.
Huge chemical fire just off I-10 in Lake Charles,LA pic.twitter.com/xQ1qcmPZYz
— RadarOmega (@RadarOmega_WX) August 27, 2020
— GregNordstrom (@GregNordstrom) August 27, 2020
Police said the fire broke out at the BioLab chemical manufacturing facility in Westlake. Built in 1979, it manufactures chemicals used in pool disinfectants and household cleaners, such as chlorinating granules and trichloroisocyanuric acid. Both are toxic to humans and animals if inhaled or ingested.
The Lake Charles area was hit hard by Hurricane Laura, a category 4 storm that made landfall in the early hours of Thursday. The hurricane brought a “catastrophic storm surge, extreme winds and flash flooding” to much of Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center.
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At least three deaths in Louisiana have been attributed to the storm so far. Now downgraded to a category 2, Laura is moving northward with sustained winds of more than 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).
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